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The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, trading as DJAARA, is partnering with VicForests to assist in restoring Country in the Wombat Forest following the June 2021 storms.

Under the first agreement of this kind, VicForests will work with DJAARA to restore Country significantly damaged by storm in 2021.

In June 2021 a significant storm caused widespread damage across large areas of Victoria, impacting around 1.97 million hectares of public land, across 34 local government areas, with even more damage done after further storms on October 29.

One area that was severely impacted was the Wombat State Forest and surrounding areas west of Melbourne.

VicForests will assist with recovery works to restore Country in disturbed areas of the forest and contribute to reducing fuel loads and reducing the fire risk to communities.

“Our goal is to ensure that we continue to care for Country. As Traditional Owners we have the responsibility to conduct ourselves respectfully when interacting with the landscape, the animals, and its ecologies after it has been impacted by severe weather. This guarantees a healthy relationship for both Djaara (People) and Djandak (Country) when managing and healing Country,” said Dja Dja Wurrung Group CEO Rodney Carter.

VicForests CEO Monique Dawson said:

“We are proud to support the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Traditional Land Owners to restore their Country to health,” Ms Dawson said.

“VicForests is committed to working with all Traditional Land Owners to provide technical skills and equipment to assist in Caring for Country.,”

“To facilitate these operations, the approved Forest Recovery Timber Utilisation Plan (TUP), identifies areas where VicForests will facilitate forest recovery operations in the Wombat State forest.

“Operations conducted under this TUP are limited to windthrown trees from the storm events, other than for hazardous trees felled for safety reasons.

“These operations have commenced this week.

“Managing and recovering fallen trees and debris following the storms is a sensitive operation requiring specialised planning and expertise. VicForests has been engaged to assist with this important work as forest management experts. We deliver that expertise through our highly trained and skilled planners, biodiversity experts, foresters, and contractors and through a developing partnership with the Traditional Owners that minimises risk to cultural heritage and respects their knowledge.

“The operation will treat windthrown debris, contributing to reducing fire risk and assisting in forest regeneration. As part of those works, timber that can be utilised will be removed to provide timber to mills and firewood for community use. Our teams have also been hard at work assessing the damage to prioritise where works are needed most – and when.”

End note:
These changes relate specifically to Vic Forest’s forest recovery program in these State forests and are separate to the current consultation on the proposed changes to the Timber Utilisation Plan (TUP) and the Timber Release Plan (TRP) which are open until 12 April 2022