Fish or woodchips, critically endangered fish found in logging coupes
Media Release || Friday 8 February 2019
The presence of a critically endangered native fish, the Barred Galaxias (Galaxias fuscus), in a creek threatened by clearfell logging on both sides, has been confirmed by government experts from the Arthur Rylah Institute. The unknown population was first discovered and reported by community group Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH) investigating the scheduled logging coupes in Castella, between Kinglake and Toolangi.
The Victorian action statement for the Barred Galaxias states that the species is only found in the upper headwaters of the Goulburn River catchment and its distribution has declined by an estimated 95% across its range. 
Despite this significant sighting, government-owned logging agency VicForests, have bulldozed an access track across the creek approximately 150m upstream from where the native fish were detected.
Under forestry legislation, either side of a creek where Barred Galaxias are detected, by law must be granted a minimum 30 or 50m stream protective buffer to minimize the perverse impacts that logging has on the species. 
“The logging of the beautiful Castella forest block will undoubtedly place this newly recorded population of Barred Galaxias at great risk of localised extinction. The government put so much time, money and effort into trying to save the species from extinction after the devastating 2009 Black Saturday fires, it would be such a shame to lose a population that’s only just been discovered.” said WOTCH spokesperson, Hayley Forster. ““Why is it that this process of recording threatened species within areas scheduled for logging is consistently left up to community groups?”
Critically endangered species such as the Barred Galaxias deserve better.”
The new finding comes after the community reported a high-density of Greater Gliders recorded within the same area. Greater gliders are listed as vulnerable nationally and in 2017 were officially listed as a threatened species within Victoria, yet the species receives no form of protection from logging within the Central Highlands forest region.
“It is because VicForests has a history of failing to identify and prioritise the conservation needs of forest- dependent species and government departments only enforce minimal compliance, that community groups such as WOTCH and Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum feel compelled to take action,” said Steve Meacher, President of Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum Inc. who lives in Toolangi. The group is currently engaged in a Federal court case against VicForests that involves the logging industries failure to comply with federal environment law. 
Situated less than 90 minutes east of Melbourne, clearing of the three Castella logging coupes will destroy approximately 120 hectares of mountain ash and mixed species forest. This is 60 MCG’s or three times the area of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne
 The State of Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2014), Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests 2014