Victoria’s tall forests

Victoria’s tall forests

The forests of eastern Victoria are a window into Australia’s evolutionary past. They have a long past—they deserve a living future.

Victoria’s forests are the most carbon-dense on the planet—home to endangered wildlife found nowhere else on Earth, as well as the world’s tallest flowering tree, the mountain ash. It’s time they were protected for good.

Image: Meg Bauer
For decades, Victoria’s spectacular tall forests have been destroyed by chainsaws, bulldozers and post-logging burns. Through political advocacy and community engagement, Wilderness Society has protected hundreds of thousands of hectares of Victoria’s forests in national parks and reserves, and convinced big businesses like Bunnings, Officeworks and NAB to move away from using paper and wood sourced from them. And thanks to the persistence and belief of our supporters and other environmental groups, Victorians will soon see an end to clearfell logging across the state.

Looking ahead, we now need to ensure these unique and remarkable forests get long-lasting protection through projects like Great Forest National Park and Emerald Link. These conservation proposals won’t just benefit forests and wildlife—they’ll provide secure jobs, safeguard carbon stocks and clean drinking water supplies, and add millions of dollars to regional economies.

Image: Rob Blakers

“We have an opportunity to secure a sanctuary for these special forests and all the wildlife that call them home. In some ways, the campaign is just beginning.” —Amelia Young, National Campaigns Director

What sets these forests apart?

There are some parts of Australia that are largely intact, escaping much of the dramatic change wrought by European colonisation. One of these precious places is the tall old forests of Victoria’s east, where Traditional Owners have long and continuing custodianship of the land and waters.

It’s the east of Victoria’s unique position, jutting out between two oceans, that has graced it with such diverse and spectacular forests. The sheer variety of forest types and their grand old age—descended from the forests of the Gondwanan supercontinent—have given rise to an extraordinary biodiversity of plants and animals.

Here, an unbroken corridor of thriving vegetation stretches from the coast to the alps, unlike anywhere else on the Australian mainland. Even after decades of clearfell-logging and successive bushfires, you can walk from the coast up through the temperate rainforests of East Gippsland and be met by towering trees in the Central Highlands, where magnificent stands of mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) blanket the mountains.

Eastern Victoria is the only place on Earth you'll find unique animals like the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum—which first emerged as a species in these forests some 20 million years ago—and the East Gippsland galaxias fish, which is only found in streams in the Kuark forest. These areas provide critical habitat for many Australian species like the endangered long-footed potoroo, greater and yellow-bellied gliders, and spotted quolls. Rare birds like boobooks and powerful owls call from the trees, while striking yellow-tufted honeyeaters and pink robins dart about the understorey.

Industrial native forest logging to end in Victoria!

Caption: National Campaigns Director Amelia Young on the news that Victorian native forest logging is set to end by 2024.
The Victorian government announced in May that it will end native forest logging years earlier than originally planned—bringing the end date forward from 2030 to 1 January 2024!

This is a momentous result not just for the forests and animals, but for the Melburnians who depend on the clean drinking water these critical ecosystems provide, First Nations groups with deep spiritual ties to the land, regional communities looking for decent and secure jobs, and every Australian who wants a safe and livable climate.

Creating the Great Forest National Park

Image: Louise Chen

The Great Forest National Park is a proposal for a new, multi-use park, which would connect existing national parks and conservation areas and add 355,000 hectares of new protected forest.

Only 60km north-east of Melbourne, the magnificent forests of the Central Highlands have been described as a ‘keeping place’ by Traditional Owners, which include the Wurundjeri, Taungurung and Gunai Kurnai people, and are home to one of Australia’s most endangered mammals: the Leadbeater’s possum.

This region already draws 3 million tourists per year—the Great Forest National Park would bring nearly 400,000 more, boosting the state economy by $71 million.

Creating the Emerald Link

Image: Judith Deland

The Emerald Link is a community-led initiative based on nature-tourism opportunities and a positive vision for the forest and communities of East Gippsland.

These far-east forests of Victoria form the only continuous tract of vegetation that remains on mainland Australia—from snowy alpine peaks to the shores of rugged coastlines. East Gippsland’s Emerald Link could become a world-class conservation tourism destination, with exciting nature recreation trails like the Sea to Summit.

With your help, we’re pushing to make these promising proposals a reality for the future of Victoria’s forests—and for us all.

Forests for the future

Image: Rob Blakers

With your support, we’re working towards permanent protection of Victoria's tall forests and all the precious species that live there. We’re establishing the Emerald Link, a community-led initiative based on nature-tourism opportunities and a positive vision for the forest and communities of East Gippsland; championing the formation of the Great Forest National Park; and helping people and businesses make an informed and ethical choice about the paper and packaging products they purchase.

Image: Logan Jones