The only area on mainland Australia that has preserved the richest biodiversity of continuous forests, untouched since the Ice Age, is in East Gippsland. The area of East Gippsland is 12,560 square miles and is mostly forests filled with mountain ecosystems that continue without interruption to the coastal edge.
According to Elfie, a local tour guide: “We have tall, wet mountain forests, we’ve got cool and warm temperate rainforests all the way down to the ethereal coastal rainforests and the beaches and estuaries, and we’ve got everything in one corner.”
Victoria contains 215 ecological vegetation types. East Gippsland takes up only 9 percent of the state, but contains 75 different vegetation types. There are diverse and plentiful plant and animal species surviving in a small area, 709 of which are listed as threatened species.
Research by the Victorian government found East Gippsland’s wilderness to be a place for biodiversity conservation. East Gippsland is a window for viewing and experiencing what Australia once was like before European settlement. The abundance of rare flora and fauna habitats in the region make it an ark of biodiversity, where species and ecosystems can stay in an adequately healthy condition.
“What is striking about East Gippsland is it’s got an amazing natural resource and a lot of that is being harvested. There is a huge potential to show people this forest and bring people to the area,” said Liz, the Eco Tour Guide for Snowy River Cycling.
Fires and logging are a danger to these forest types. Logging still takes place in the continuous forests and is a serious threat. When the habitat of a forest has been changed by the removal of the tallest and oldest trees, the different types of forests next to it will also be badly affected. The logged forests will be more exposed and unable to protect fragile species that thrive under the canopies of the tall ancient trees. Animals are stressed and forced to move, while rare plants will die.
A concept called the East Gippsland Emerald Link will connect the ancient forests protecting them for future generations to see and experience as a whole landscape. The East Gippsland Emerald Link will preserve a great landscape of biodiversity. East Gippsland’s wide connected forests can continue to be enjoyed by locals and visitors for recreational activity and remain an amazing environment to learn from.
“Where I came from in France, I did a lot of hiking and camping. It’s my first time in East Gippsland. To someone like me, everything here is so exotic — the trees, the animals, the birds, and the insects. Never have I seen this kind of rich, lush vegetation. Everything is so grand and beautiful,” according to Will, a French tourist.
Welcome the opportunity to go on a tour and connect with East Gippsland’s ancient forests. Enjoy hiking or biking while learning all about the plants and animals. Experience the change of environments from alpine forest to the coastal shore. If you’re more adventurous: Fishing, camping, rock climbing, 4×4 tours, and kayaking are other options for exploring East Gippsland’s untouched wilderness. If you are thinking of venturing into the continuous forests, there is ample information available on the East Gippsland Emerald Link website.