Fishy business

In the pure mountain streams of the iconic Kuark forest, just 30 kilometres north-east of Orbost in far East Gippsland, a tiny, critically endangered fish has been found in forest areas subject to logging.

Citizen scientists from GECO and the Fauna and Flora Research Collective conducted surveys in the creeks in this part of Kuark forest (in a logging area known as Tin Shed) and successfully identified a tiny critically endangered fish found nowhere else on Earth.

Galaxias Aequipinnis | GECO

Astonishingly, the Wilderness Society understands the government’s own environment department ignored the advice of a leading aquatic scientist, who advised that in order to protect the fish, both tributaries of the stream it lives in required a buffer from logging. VicForests then went ahead and logged the forest along one of these streams.

As well as the very rare East Gippsland galaxias fish, citizen scientists had found the Long-footed Potoroo, Yellow-bellied Gliders, a likely new, as yet undescribed species of crayfish, and two rare plants (one of which being the iconic Slender Tree Fern) both of which should have had 250m Special Management Zones applied.Because VicForests had not conducted the required surveys, or properly protected the species found, Environment East Gippsland together with lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia took legal action to protect what was left of this part of the Kuark forest.

“Sadly, Minister Neville’s Environment Department consistently refuse to order VicForests to survey for rare and threatened flora and fauna in areas slated for logging, so it’s left up to community groups to engage lawyers,” said Felicity Millner of Environmental Justice Australia.The outcome of this legal action is that VicForests will stop logging in particular areas of the Tin Shed coupe, conduct a survey and put in place management areas for species found.

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