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VicForests releases social impact scoping to Mirboo North and Noojee

VicForests has released to the Mirboo North community and the Noojee community social impact scoping summary reports that assess concerns and support around plans to harvest coupes near the towns. Source: Timberbiz

Mirboo North

VicForests’ General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said he has released the report to Mirboo North to give stakeholders, including the Preserve our Forests Steering Committee, the community and Local Government a summary of feedback provided to VicForests during interviews in August 2017.

“The process, undertaken last August, was intended as an internal training and learning exercise, and included confidential comments from 22 interviewees from the Mirboo District including individuals, farmers, landowners and businesses in the town and near the three coupes.

“The independent external author was asked to prepare a summary for public release with no specific identifying details.”

Interviewee concerns included potential impact on forests, vistas, biodiversity, tourism and amenities like the Lyrebird Walk.

Interviewee support included possible local economic benefits from forestry, wildlife’s capacity to move to adjacent forests, and recreational users capacity to utilise nearby areas of forest.

“We want to be transparent and open as possible to support community information and discussion, and we are happy to consider concerns and mitigations. I feel that appropriately preparing a summary for release is worthwhile and respectful of the community,” Mr Messina said.

It is not the purpose of a social impact scoping exercise to answer if harvesting should or shouldn’t occur. Rather, it identifies potential impacts and suggest ways to avoid, minimise or manage these.

The report suggestions include low intensity harvesting, buffering of vistas, amenities, and wildlife areas, and supporting alternative recreational areas.

“The report has been shared with the Preserve of Forests Steering Committee and South Gippsland Shire council and will form part of ongoing discussions. I was pleased that PoF recently met with VicForests and allowed some of our experts to present possibilities and mitigations.

“While PoF has made no commitments, VicForests has agreed to do some further work on low intensity harvesting that could be possible in the coupes,” Mr Messina said.

“We agreed to meet and discuss matters further in about a month.”

VicForests cares about social and community values and has conducted extensive and ongoing consultation with stakeholders in the Mirboo North community to understand concerns and respond where possible.

The ‘VicForests Social Impact Assessment Development: Scoping studies, Mirboo North’ report can be downloaded www.vicforests.com.au/static/uploads/files/vf-report-pilot-studies-mirboo-north-fitzgerald-wfkjkkpeeajy.pdf

Community members can comment to VicForests via http://www.vicforests.com.au/contactus/melbourne

Noojee

VicForests also released to the Noojee community a social impact scoping summary report conducted last August that assessed concerns around plans to harvest coupes near the town.

VicForests’ General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said he has released the report because it will give stakeholders including local residents and the Baw Baw Shire Council a summary of the feedback provided to VicForests during the interviews in August 2017.

“This study was originally intended as an internal training and learning exercise. It involved confidential comments from 20 interviewees from the Noojee district about their views on harvesting the three coupes on the current TRP near the town.

“However, after a few requests regarding the Noojee study, I have asked the independent external author to review and prepare the summary for public release without specific identifying details.

“We are striving to be transparent and open as possible to support community discussion.

“Harvesting near Noojee remains in abeyance until a Federal Court resolves a statement of claims made by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum relating to five coupes, including Noojee’s Backdoor coupe.

“Nevertheless, given the requests for this study, I feel that preparing an appropriate summary for release is worthwhile and respectful of the community’s discussions.”

The study identifies the issues that have more recently been raised and discussed with at several community meetings in Noojee since last August.

These include concerns such as:

  • 􀁸 Visual amenity
  • 􀁸 Tourism and the local economy
  • 􀁸 Altered landscape
  • 􀁸 Impacts on native forests, habitat or species
  • 􀁸 Truck movements.

Some comments in the study included that harvesting could be an opportunity to show visitors and schools how VicForests approached native forest management.

The ‘VicForests Social Impact Assessment Development: Scoping studies, Noojee’ report can be downloaded at www.vicforests.com.au/static/uploads/files/vf-report-pilot-studies-noojee-fitzgerald-wfyltoabspdm.pdf

Community members can comment to VicForests via http://www.vicforests.com.au/contactus/melbourne