Logs recovered from the storm

Lilydale Mooroolbark pony club.jpg

1. Overview

Our community value the Yarra Ranges environment, so it has been difficult to see approximately 25,000 trees fall across the municipality during the June storm.

Since the devastating storm we have produced 17,000m3 of mulch and 900 tonnes of firewood to locals and community group and held two free firewood sessions where over 1,000 residents received 3/4m3 each.

Fallen trees have been reused in a variety of locations including helping to landscape the Yarra Valley Trails. Others are being provided to the community for use by artists or community groups including the Yering based, Lilydale and Mooroolbark Pony Club who have been making use of some new jumps as equestrian obstacles. Meanwhile some of the root balls have been given to the Department of Fisheries to be used in rivers as part of stock rehabilitation programs.

Blackwoods in particular are a very popular species of tree for artists and sculptors and we gave away 182 of them following an Expression of Interest process. We hope to see some of these trees make their way back into the community, for example, we’re aware that Badger Creek Men’s Shed will be using the wood once it seasons and we look forward to seeing what they will make.

Find out a bit more on how we've been able to repurpose and reuse logs within the community by clicking next at the bottom of the page. 

2. Men's Shed received donation of Blackwood Logs

At the Badger Creek Men’s shed, behind the Badger Creek CFA, work is underway to repurpose blackwood timber that Yarra Ranges Council donated to the group.

In February 2022, Yarra Ranges Council received a number of expressions of interest from local community groups, Men’s Sheds, and artists, many of which have now taken possession of the unique blackwood logs after they fell during the June storm.

182 pieces of the valuable wood were shared among 57 individuals and groups, including Badger Creek Men’s Shed.  Badger Creek Men’s Shed Treasurer Alan Jones said the organisation of 30 members relied on donated materials and that blackwood was very rarely donated because of its value.

“Generally, we only get donations of plywood and pine, but Yarra Ranges Council has supplied us with this blackwood timber that has been cut from storm-felled trees, so it means a lot to us to have this material.”

“Once this wood seasons we’ll be able to use it to make some furniture or something else – we’ve got some time to decide before it becomes useable.”

The timber will have to season before being made into furniture, which can take two years. 

Blackwood logs are sought-after for their impressive appearance, which is described as a rich, golden-brown colour that is often complimented by reddish streaks or narrow bands of black.

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Jim Child said the blackwood logs attracted a huge amount of interest from the community and that he is looking forward to seeing what interesting items are made from the logs.

“It will be wonderful to see what the Badger Creek Men’s Shed are making and their plans for this wood,” Cr Child said.

“We all know the health benefits the sheds provide to so many, and to be able to offer these logs to the community for such positive projects is excellent.”

“The community will be able to reuse and repurpose these logs in a meaningful way, so it’s a great environmental thing, but it’s also a great community thing.” 

3. Council’s Habitat Hollows Program Protects Precious Wildlife

Yarra Ranges Council aims to install several nest boxes and hollows across six locations in the municipality as a part of storm recovery works.

Fallen logs and stumps collected during the storm clean-up are being repurposed in bushland sites to create habitat for local fauna including the threatened Powerful Owl. It’s estimated that over 25,000 trees fell within the Yarra Ranges municipality during the 2021 June storm.

Some of those trees housed valuable tree hollows. Tree hollows are an increasingly scarce and a valuable resource, as they provide habitat and protection for many native species.

The Council has endeavoured to replace these important natural structures and Yarra Ranges Council Biodiversity Rehabilitation Coordinator Scott Allen said the program would target over 30 species that rely on hollows for breeding and nesting.

“We share the sadness of our community over the loss of our trees in the June storm and we’ve been working to find a way that efficiently replaces some of the important natural hollows that are used by so many of our locally native species,” said Scott. 

"Large hollows suitable for owls or possums can take hundreds of years to form so it’s vital that we replace what once was there.”

Some of the priority species that will benefit from this will include various microbat species, Yellow Bellied Glider, Sugar Glider, several small to medium owl species such as the Sooty Owl and the Boobook Owl. There will also be specialised hollow logs that will cater specifically for the threatened Powerful Owl.

Yarra Ranges Council has partnered with The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to deliver this project.

Council Biodiversity Rehabilitation Coordinator Scott Allen said, “DELWP has been instrumental in providing detailed species information and assistance on best hollow practices to support species in the region”.

“We’re all on board and working together to ensure that this project is delivered and monitored into the future and that the right species utilise these hollows,” said Scott.  

“DELWP and Council are committed to restoring those hollow bearing trees that were lost from the storm and responsibly recreating essential habitat for some of our key and iconic wildlife.” 

4. Collaborative donation for Rescue Logs

Yarra Ranges Council donated 37 enormous logs to the Community Group Rescue Logs in April, to be repurposed into community-focused projects.

In a collaborative effort, VicForests covered the costs of transporting and delivering the logs to a property in Monbulk, while Yarra Ranges Council donated the materials themselves.

Founder of the group, Rescue Logs, Julia Hall said the timber will be used for two projects, with a focus on promoting resilience and reflection.

“We realised very early on we needed to have a project so that locals could have a place that in some ways memorialises the storm, but also gives them a peaceful place where they can sit and reflect in a beautiful area,” Julia said.

“The Kalorama Park project is just that and will have two aspects to it; the first being a play space with beautiful equipment, which will be very raw and tactile and the other being a reflection area.”

Over the past year Council has endeavoured to reuse as much fallen debris as possible with valuable logs being shared amongst the community for projects around the hills as a reflection of their significance in Yarra Ranges and their value to the local biodiversity.

This sentiment was shared by Julia who said she founded the aptly called ‘Rescue Logs’ group to rescue logs from being mulched or used as firewood.

“We want to save as many of these logs as possible and keep them in the hills on projects to rebuild so that people can enjoy them for years to come.”

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Jim Child said Council valued the community contribution and investment in creating spaces that acknowledge the storm and loss of trees.

“The Yarra Ranges is renowned for its environment both nationally and internationally. We were extremely saddened to see the loss of our trees and we are grateful to community groups like Rescue Logs who are repurposing this material into something that can be used by the community to remember and reflect, but also potentially help heal from the event,” said Cr Child

5. Pony club jumping for joy after donation of tree logs

The Lilydale and Mooroolbark Pony Club, located in Yering, is jumping for joy after Yarra Ranges Council donated 15 logs from last year’s June storm to the club for use as equestrian obstacles.

Yarra Ranges Council has been actively engaging with the community to determine ways in which logs that are too big to be milled can be repurposed to benefit the community into the future.

Club president Julie Lithgow said the new jumps will help ensure the club is offering the best equipment for its members into the future.

“Yarra Ranges Council gave us 15 logs and it was important for us to upgrade what we had to offer.”

“We spent time working with Council to get these logs so that could offer new and exciting jumps to our members,” Julie said.  

The new jumps have been set up by a professional course builder and some have even been carved to look like animals, with one bearing resemblance to a Dachshund.

Already the jumps have been tested with over 150 riders and their horses converging on the club on 13 February to take part in a cross-country horse-riding event.

Club President Julie said feedback around the new jumps was positive and that everyone at the club was grateful for support from the Council.

“We got really good feedback from our competition on Sunday which had 150 competitors.”

“It’s quite hard to get these size logs so when you do you really appreciate them. Clubs like us, we don’t have the money to buy these logs because at the end of the day we are just a community organisation, so it’s just fantastic that we do have the volunteers to put the work in and carve these logs and place them where they need to be as well as what Council has done in donating them to us.”

Yarra Ranges Council has been working with community groups, Men’s Shed and artists to ensure a variety of logs are reused and repurposed around the municipality.

Yara Ranges Council Mayor, Jim Child said it was exciting to see the many uses that these logs have, and it was great to see that they are benefitting community groups who might otherwise have to fundraise for them or seek alternative materials.

“While the loss of trees from the Storm has been terrible it has been inspiring to see the community put a lot of these logs to good use and reuse/repurpose them in a meaningful way that will benefit the current pony club and future members.”

6. Storm debris creates new reel estate for fish

A collaborative effort by Yarra Ranges Council (YRC), Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) and Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) will see close to 40 enormous snags in the form of tree stumps and root balls replenished into Rivers around the Goulburn and Glenelg area, and at a Shepparton native fish hatchery.

The root balls, or snags as they’re commonly called by fishers, will provide extra habitat for native fish, including the murray cod and golden perch.

Since the June storms, Council has collected more than 31,000 tonnes of wood, stump and branch debris.

Of the collected material, 17,700m3 of mulch has been re-distributed to the community.

Some of that debris has remained at processing sites due to its unsuitability for milling and Council has worked with other agencies to identify how they can be used most effectively.

This collaborative approach led to an agreement between YRC, BRC and VFA whereby root balls that would otherwise require additional costly processing to turn into mulch, could instead be effectively utilised for native fish habitat.

Some of these repurposed snags will also be used at the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s new native fish hatchery near Shepparton, where thirty-two ponds will be built to grow newly hatched native fish that will eventually be released into waters across Victoria.

Once in the environment these root balls will increase breeding environments, add natural food sources and create a sustainable native fish community, resulting in benefits not only to the local environment and waterways but to recreational fishers.

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Jim Child said that Yarra Ranges Council is excited to be working with BRV and VFA on this project.

 “While the loss of trees during the storm is sad, reusing root balls and stumps which were too big to mill and produced poor quality mulch is good for conservation, good for healthy waterways and good for recreational fishing.”