We are failing to protect the forest says Rosenow

December 03, 2017

Echuca sleeper cutter Doug Rosenow. Photo Luke Hemer.

THE Banyule State Forest has always been an integral part of the Echuca East community. But with smothering weeds freely growing, the treasure may soon be wrecked.

Doug Rosenow, a lifelong Echuca East resident and a sleeper cutter for the past 60 years, has expressed his great concern over the state of Banyule.

‘‘It makes you cry,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s absolutely disgraceful. They’ve made a big mistake.’’

Trudging through the area it is not hard for the untrained eye to see the lifeless trees and the enormous amount of freely growing weeds invading the native fauna.

The culprits in the situation seem to be hard to pin down as Campaspe Shire points the finger at Parks Victoria with Parks claiming it is an issue for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

According to Forest Fire Management Victoria’s Tim Wishart, there is adequate work undertaken to preserve the forest and its native plants.

“There is a native shrub, Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis,) which is quite thick in Banyule State Forest and is sometimes mistaken for a weed,’’ he says.

“The Cherry Ballart, a parasitic plant, is a good food source for the many animals that live in the forest. Occasionally, trees are negatively impacted by the shrub.

“Forest Fire Management Victoria crews have carried out and plan to undertake several activities to ensure the public is safe from bushfire.

“The Cherry Ballarat is removed, prior to each fire season, along the verge and inside the bends of the main track network in the forest.

“Dangerous tree works along the Main Track are planned to be scheduled in the next 12 months to remove hazardous dead trees.

“Planned burning has been conducted in the forest in recent years to reduce fuel loads and help protect the local community from bushfire.

“Compliance Officers also patrol the area on a regular basis.’’

For Mr Rosenow, after three years of lobbying to get major works done, he wants to see the area cleared and restored to its former glory.

‘‘I want it all cleaned up and the firewood collected,’’ he said.

‘‘It should go back to us to look after it because the government can’t seem to do it. We want to look after it so it will be here forever.’’

Back in the 1970s Banyule, known locally as Bower’s Bend, used to be a sandbar with a pontoon.

Now the whole area has been overrun with untamed scotch thistles and deadly nightshade — both of which are slowly killing the trees.

Mr Rosenow is worried about the dead trees, especially coming into summer as a fire could destroy the area.

‘‘It’s a fire hazard. People are crying out for timber and it’s just sitting here. It’s shocking.’’

Rosenow hopes Banyule will soon be saved for future residents to enjoy the area and our natural landscape is not lost.

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