PRESERVE Our Forests Mirboo North group has released a report calling on the state government to protect the Mirboo North forest as a Nature Conservation Reserve.

On August 28, 2021, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change released the long-awaited process for 96,000 hectares of native forest to be protected from logging, as part of the transition out of native forest logging in Victoria announced in 2019.

A formal process has since been announced to establish Immediate Protected Areas (IPAs) including the block at Mirboo North.

IPAs include four areas in east Victoria: East Gippsland, Central Highlands (Healesville to Mt Baw Baw), Strathbogies (near Benalla) and Mirboo North.

The report, Conservation Values Of The Mirboo North State Forest Immediate Protection Area, compiled by the Preserve our Forests steering committee, highlights a community-led campaign including citizen science field surveys and research into forest biodiversity, socioeconomic values and amenity, other forest values encompassing the water catchment, and forest governance.

The thorough and in-depth report will be given to the state government to feed into the IPA process.

“We are thrilled to release this report; the culmination of four years of work documents the importance of community-driven action and the dedicated work of volunteers who spent many days and nights in the Mirboo North State Forest to record its rich biodiversity so dear to the local community,” Marg

Thomas, chair of the Preserve Our Forests Mirboo North steering committee, said.

“Local volunteers were also able to effectively demonstrate the forest’s value to the wellbeing and economic security of the district.

“It tells of the many native plants and animals found in this forest and of their importance to the biodiversity of the Strzelecki Ranges Bioregion, Victoria and nationwide.

“The report is a unique document containing a wealth of information and wonderful images of the Mirboo North forest – all of which will be a substantial reference source for generations to come.”

The Mirboo North forest contains threatened species such as greater gliders, lace monitors, powerful owl and multiple burrowing crayfish species, as well as a healthy population of the genetically unique Strzelecki koala.

The report is available at vnpa.org.au/mirboo-north-forests.

The Victorian National Parks Association is hosting the report for the Preserve our Forest Mirboo North group.