To: Victorian Environment Assessment Council Red Gum Inquiry (Draft proposals paper)

Made: September 2007

Our earlier submission called for the protection of Red Gum Forests, wetlands, biodiversity, endangered species and water quality in the study area.
We note and broadly support draft recommendations included in VEAC’s July 2007 Proposals Paper.
 We make the following comments and suggested refinements after consultation with VEAC council members and staff, taking into account public concerns and further consideration of our members.

Environmental water
*Strongly support the integrated use of this water reserve to maximize environmental outcomes in the Victorian tributaries, key wetlands and of course the Red Gum Forests.
*Environmental water should have tradable and carryover characteristics to maximize outcomes to the environment and also other water users.

Indigenous Involvement in Management
*We support all recommendations and look forward to the co-operative management of Public Land.

Recreation and Tourism
* Consideration needs to be given for a more liberal approach to solid fuel campfires in National Parks. We believe however restrictions during declared fire seasons and the protection of fallen timber from firewood collection protect both public safety and biodiversity.
*The strategic placement of public camping grounds abutting National and State Parks on private land would encourage walking and horse riding trails the length of the Parks and seem a reasonable replacement for many current overcrowded or unsuitable camping areas. 

Domestic Stock Grazing.
*We strongly support the removal of stock from declared National Parks.
On other classifications of Public Land, the grazing of stock for improved ecological outcomes could be considered, on a contractual arrangement.
* We believe grazing of Public Land with river and stream frontages to be damaging to water quality, erosion, biodiversity and the health of our natural waterways and should not be allowed to continue.
* The grazing of river and stream frontages pose an unacceptable risk to public health, and the health of stock on downstream farms.
National and International Quality Assurance Programs could be compromised.

National Parks.
* We support recommendations for new National Parks as the best means ensuring flora and fauna protection.
* The Victorian tributaries are an important foundation for future Bio-Links allowing threatened species facing climate change, migration opportunities to Southern Victoria. Protecting and enhancing this vegetation is essential.

Members of the Environmental Farmers Network appreciated the opportunity attend VEAC’s Community Forums, which we found both well organized and informative.

John Pettigrew


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