Portland Horsham Forest Management Plan
The Portland Horsham FMP process was initiated in 2002 By the DSE as a process to involve the local community in developing a management plan for the State Forest Network between Portland and Horsham for the next ten years. Community support was guaged from a forest forum held in the Cobboboonee forest in July 2002.
The process brought together a wide cross section of stakeholder groups including ocal shires, Catchment Management Authorities, Field Naturalist Clubs and environment groups, CFA, recreation and tourism groups, timber industry, apiarists, Aboriginal communities, and more.
A Consultative Committee of 25 members drawn from across the stakeholder groups worked in collaboration with the DSE to develop the management plan.
The first draft for comment was released in December 2005. The final plan was due to be released in November 2006. This was cancelled due to the State Election.
2006 Victorian State Election
In the lead up to the 2006 Victorian State election, Environement Victoria launched a media campaign to push for the Cobboboonee to be converted to National Park. A series of TV ads, along with letters to newspaper editors slowly gained momentum until the election promise was announced by the Bracks Government.
10 Days before the November 2006 State election, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Environment Minister John Thwaites arrived in Portland unannounced to unveil an election promise to convert the Cobboboonee State forest into a National Park, completely undermining 4 years of community input into the Forest Management Plan for the Cobboboonee.
We strongly oppose the extension of the Lower Glenelg National Park to include any or all of the Cobboboonee State Forest, for the following reasons:
1. The Cobboboonee State Forest has been well managed by DSE in the past. It is not a pristine old growth forest, but an environment modified by forestry practices. It does house many important plant and animal species as a result of good management practices used in the past by DSE officers.
2. There are no significant threatening processes present in the forest that will affect biodiversity. There has been no significant logging for 10 years and existing legislation prevents this practice from recommencing. The current DSE has an effective fire management plan. Failure to follow this plan by Parks Victoria managers in the future will threaten the survival of the biodiversity and neighbouring properties.
3. The DSE managers have established good relationships with all users of the forest areas. Traditional recreational usage has been environmentally acceptable and lead to a connection to the forest by the population. We already have a large National Parks in the district that cater for passive recreation and preserve local flora and fauna. Annexation of the Cobbobonee will upset the balance of differing use patterns that local people have enjoyed for generations, with little or no environmental advantage.
4. Traditional fire wood collection practices have allowed a cheap fuel source for those people not serviced by natural gas, especially pensioners and the less well off in the community. This will be phased out if the State Forest is no longer under DSE administration.
5. The community feels as though they have NOT been consulted about the declaration of National Park status for the Cobboboonee. The DSE had run a prolonged community consultation process during the formulation of the Portland-Horsham forest management plan. The Minister’s announcement of National Park status 1 week before the recent election is like a bolt from the blue.
We would prefer to adopt the Portland-Horsham 10 year plan, and at the end of that period hold a referendum of Shire residents to determine our forest’s future. What has happened smacks of electioneering tactics to attract the Green vote and ignores the residents’ best interests.
The Cobboboonee Community Forest petition to State Government was written by Cobboboonee Community Forest Group and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.