ALMOST half of Victoria’s State Game Reserves are degraded by livestock grazing, cropping, firewood collection and rubbish dumping, while 10 per cent remain inaccessible.
Almost 60 years after Victoria’s first State Game Reserve was declared at Jack Smith Lake in Gippsland, the Game Management Authority completed its first audit of reserves last week.
The study, in response to the Victorian Government’s Sustainable Hunting Action Plan, reported there are 199 State Game Reserves, covering 75,000ha of public land. They include 18 Ramsar-listed wetlands.
GMA chairman Brian Hine said the audit showed the reserves were “generally quite good”.
“There’s now a baseline there … and they’re not in bad condition,” Mr Hine said.
Victoria’s Game Reserves are managed by Parks Victoria but the audit was carried out by the GMA on behalf of 50,000 licensed hunters.
It found “although there are 29 current grazing licences applied to part or the whole of the reserve, there was evidence of livestock grazing on a further 29 reserves. Illegal firewood collection/removal was identified at 35 reserves, cropping at seven reserves and illegal rubbish dumping at 18 reserves”.
Mr Hine said much of the encroachment related to “reserves that are not signed and potentially not fenced”.
The audit reported more than 40 per cent of reserves had no signage, while five reserves had no boundary fencing and 35 had less than half their boundary fenced.
Mr Hine said one of the most surprising findings was the issue of accessibility.
“Twenty reserves have no access to them, they’re landlocked with no road, no gate and surrounded by private land,” Mr Hine said.
However, he said that did not reflect the condition or management of the reserves.
Upper House MP Daniel Young said the audit proved Parks Victoria had ignored the reserves.“Is this a deliberate decision to funnel Parks Victoria’s resources to other sites, or is it a lack of resources allocated to Parks Victoria by successive state governments?” Mr Young said. Parks Vict said increased funding through the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan that would improve signage and enhance the reserves.
The audit also showed that 90 per cent of the State Game Reserves had no infrastructure excluding fencing and signage..