Controversy Erupts Over Aboriginal Forest Gardening Project in Victoria

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation's forest gardening project in Wombat State Forest sparks controversy, with ecologist David Lindenmayer claiming it damages the ecosystem, while the corporation defends its traditional land management practices.

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Geeta Pillai
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Controversy Erupts Over Aboriginal Forest Gardening Project in Victoria

Controversy Erupts Over Aboriginal Forest Gardening Project in Victoria

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA) has come under fire for its forest gardening project in the Wombat State Forest near Daylesford, Victoria. The project, undertaken in partnership with VicForests, aims to restore First Nations sovereignty and oversight over the land. However, it has sparked controversy with prominent ecologist David Lindenmayer, who claims the project is damaging the forest.

In his new book 'The Forest Wars', Lindenmayer criticizes the DJAARA project, describing it as logging that will harm rather than heal the forest. He argues that the timber removal being carried out is harmful to the forest ecosystem. DJAARA maintains that the timber removed was storm-damaged and that their cultural land management practices are not causing damage.

Why this matters: This controversy highlights the ongoing tensions between Aboriginal land management practices, ecological conservation efforts, and government agencies involved in forest management. It raises important questions about how to balance the restoration of Indigenous sovereignty with the protection of sensitive forest ecosystems.

Adding to the controversy, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is also conducting debris removal operations in the Wombat State Forest to mitigate bushfire risk. These operations have drawn further criticism and added to the complex debate surrounding the management of the forest.

In a statement, DJAARA defended its project, stating, "Our cultural land management practices have been carried out for thousands of years and are not damaging the forest. We are working to restore our sovereignty and oversight over our traditional lands." The corporation emphasized that the timber removed was storm-damaged and that their practices aim to heal and protect the forest.

The controversy surrounding the DJAARA forest gardening project in the Wombat State Forest continues to unfold, with ecologist David Lindenmayer and the Aboriginal corporation at odds over the impact of the project on the forest ecosystem. As the debate rages on, it remains to be seen how the competing interests of Indigenous land management, ecological conservation, and bushfire mitigation will be reconciled in the management of this sensitive forest area.

Key Takeaways

  • DJAARA's forest gardening project in Wombat State Forest faces criticism from ecologist Lindenmayer.
  • Lindenmayer claims the project is harmful logging, while DJAARA says it's restoring sovereignty.
  • The project highlights tensions between Aboriginal land management and ecological conservation efforts.
  • The Department of Energy is also conducting debris removal operations in the forest, adding to the controversy.
  • The debate continues over balancing Indigenous sovereignty, ecological protection, and bushfire mitigation in the forest.