Assessing and Protecting Biodiversity
Pre-harvest Survey Process - A risk-based approach
Victoria's world-class parks and reserves system has been designed to protect our important environmental values including threatened flora and fauna species and habitat. More than five million hectares of native forest in Victoria is formally protected in National Parks or other conservation reserves.
VicForests uses a risk-based approach to manage threatened flora and fauna species and communities which may be found in areas planned for timber harvesting.
Each area planned for harvest undergoes a pre-harvest assessment to identify and manage key biodiversity values. This assessment includes:
- Desktop Assessment (all coupes)
- Coupe Transect (all coupes)
- Targeted Species Survey (high-risk coupes)
Firstly, a desktop assessment is carried out on any area that is planned for harvest. The desktop assessment is designed to identify the potential presence of key biodiversity, cultural, social and timber values within the proposed coupe boundary and within 500m of the coupe.
The desktop assessment considers the best available information from Government Spatial datasets, and summarises the presence and proximity of known values to the proposed coupe. Values flagged within a 500m proximity of the coupe may require further investigation during the field-based coupe transect stage of the pre-harvest survey, or trigger an additional survey process, such as a Targeted Species Survey for threatened species.
Values such as rainforest, detection records of threatened flora and fauna, historic and recreation sites, protection zones, water catchment areas, streams, and potential areas of habitat for threatened species such as the Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) can all be identified during this stage.
The Coupe Transect stage is undertaken on every coupe by VicForests planning staff, whom are trained in the identification of tree and plant species, key threatened ecological vegetation communities, like Rainforest, and in the identification of specific habitat features for a range of fauna, including the large forest owls, Gliders and the Leadbeater's Possum.
A coupe transect involves walking a minimum of 200m per 10 hectares through the areas planned for harvest to verify the presence of values flagged during the desktop assessment process and to record opportunistic sightings of flora, fauna and habitat features that may trigger prescribed management actions.
This field assessment stage is an invaluable part of VicForests planning and biodiversity management as in many cases additional biodiversity values, that may not have been identified during the desktop assessment stage can be identified.
To view VicForests processes for the Identification of Leadbeater's Possum Habitat or Rainforest Identification, go to VicForests Policies, Procedures and Instructions
Targeted Species Surveys
Targeted species surveys are yet another step in the hierarchical risk-based approach to management of biodiversity across VicForests proposed timber harvesting operations.
A targeted species survey is conducted only where results from the desktop assessment or coupe transect stages trigger the coupe as 'High-Risk'. Risk is determined from desktop or field-sourced information that indicates the likelihood of a coupe to support a targeted set of threatened fauna, including various birds, frogs, mammals and invertebrates.
For more information about the criteria and process for undertaking a 'Targeted species survey', go to Targeted Species Surveys