The Great Forest National Park proposes that Victorians create and add a new 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The basis for this tenure change is weighed scientifically, socially and economically against 5 key reasons;

Conservation of near extinct wildlife and plants after Black Saturday and in light of future fire events. Water catchments of Melbourne, LaTrobe and the Goulburn Murray systems. The largest area of clean water and catchment in Victoria. Food bowl and community security. Tourism. This is Victoria’s richest ecological asset, but these magnificent forests have not yet been included in a state plan to encourage tourism. Our rural towns want and need this boost to tourism. Climate. These ash forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. They sequester carbon, modulate the climate and can act as giant storage banks to absorb excess carbon if they are not logged. The financial opportunity in carbon credits is significant and can be paid directly to the state when a system is established federally. Places of spiritual nourishment. These magnificent forests have been described as a ‘keeping place’ by the traditional owners, a place to secure the story of the land and places of spiritual nourishment that we pass on to future generations. There should be no price tag on the value nature brings to mental health and spiritual well-being.
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    Proposed Parks

    We propose adding 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the Central Highlands of Victoria to form the Great Forest National Park

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    Existing Parks

    Currently there is only 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria

Why it is time for the Great Forest National Park

An explanation on the importance of the Central Highlands region to the biodiversity of the region, the city of Melbourne’s water supply, and the many endangered species that call the area home.

Presented by Prof. David Lindenmayer, AO FAA

The key features of the plan include:

Scale: Reserving 355,000 hectares of state forest additional to the 180,000 hectares currently in reserve.

Context: (Map) Melbourne contains approximately 168,891 hectares of protected reserve around the city. Sydney enjoys 1,094,207  hectares in reserve (refer to report).

Fire safety: Building fire resilience back into the landscape. Science

Water safety: Protecting and enhancing Victoria’s (Melbourne’s) primary water supplies. Science

Climate safety: Building and storing green carbon in soils and forest under a Commonwealth carbon/conservation trade program. Science

Species resilience: Extinction prevention by restoring ecosystems and implementing the new ‘old growth’ plan. Science

Science program: Real-time monitoring informing ecosystem management (water, wildlife, carbon, forest health).

Jobs: Growing and diversifying the region’s economy by taking advantage of value-adding opportunities  in forest eco-tourism, boutique/delicatessen agriculture, a world-class wine region and the arts;

Education and Training: Re-establishing a training centre in Lilydale; agriculture, wine, food, hospitality, eco-tourism, arts/design (could include a timber design program).

  • Re-open Toolangi Discovery Centre.
  • Strengthen smaller learning portals for youth
  • An education program in association with the Healesville Sanctuary
  • Revitalise towns with proposed infrastructure and marketing of forest and food tourism.

Science and eco-tourism development programs in local secondary schools to connect students into regional study, training and career opportunities (parks, tourism, water, carbon, fire, forest, agriculture and wildlife management). The next training levels promoted through regional and peri-urban TAFE institutions and Outdoor Education and Education Outdoor programs.

Infrastructure: Promoting Healesville as a regional hub and revitalising growth in and around regional communities such as Kinglake, Toolangi, Eildon, Taggerty, Buxton, Narbethong, Marysville, Alexandra, Woods Point, Reefton, Yea, Castella, Warburton, Yarra Junction, Noojee, and Powelltown to improve retail, hospitality and support new eco-tourism infrastructure;

  • A zipline tour in Toolangi – a canopy line (investment secured)
  • A world-class 5 day overland track from Healesville -Marysville -Eildon (shorter walks within)
  • A skywalk (tree-tops walk) in Cambarville adjacent to Lake Mountain to enhance all season low alpine visitation
  • The Warburton to Walhalla trail – a 5 day track with huts (already planned and approved)
  • Greater signage and interpretation sites across whole region
  • Greater accessibility in the mountains for ‘grey nomads’
  • More day picnic sites
  • More listed and designated camp sites
  • Properly serviced, managed and funded four-wheel driving tracks
  • Responsible hunting programs
  • Trail bike riding, rider training and track management

Culture: Protecting and improving the region’s environmental and cultural heritage assets to achieve the best outcome for the environment, economy and community;

Acknowledging Aboriginal custodianship by building indigenous roles into park management, adopting traditional names for iconic places and enhancing interpretation signage with traditional history and knowledge.

– Encouraging flexible and adaptable public transport to the region and within the region.
– Enable greater wheelchair access and accommodate visitors with special needs, and
– promote safe and family friendly natural places.

Relevant Reports

Great Forest National Park - Summary Report
December 2015
The Great Forest National Park will be to Melbourne what the Blue Mountains and its national parks are to Sydney. The Park will embrace the city of Melbourne, being a natural amphitheatre of hazy blue mountains to the east of the city. The protection of the Central Highlands’ diverse natural and cultural values will provide long deserved and overdue recognition for the forests right on Melbourne’s doorstep.
Great Forest National Park: economic contribution of park establishment, park management, and visitor expenditure
February 2017
Nous Group (Nous) was engaged by The Wilderness Society to undertake a narrowly scoped analysis,
projecting the additional economic activity generated by the Great Forest National Park (GFNP) through
park establishment, park management and potential additional visitor expenditure.
Great Forest National Park - An Economic Boon
February 2017
The Great Forest National Park would be a huge tourism drawcard, creating hundreds of jobs and adding millions of dollars to the local economy.
Sydney and Melbourne Parks Around Cities Comparison
Sydney has fantastic parks right on its doorstep - think Wollemi and the Blue Mountains. By contrast, Melbourne only has small fragmented places to visit. The Kinglake, Yarra Ranges and Baw Baw National Parks need to be connected to create one great place to visit.
Running Pure: The importance of forest protected areas to drinking water
A research report for the World Bank / WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use. This report represents an early attempt to develop wider arguments for protection, focusing on one narrow but important issue − the potential role of protected areas in helping to maintain water supply to major cities.
Carbon stocks and impacts of disturbance in native eucalypt forest ecosystems in the Central Highlands catchments supplying water to Melbourne
May 2012
Written by Heather Keith, David Lindenmayer, Brendan Mackey, David Blair, Lauren Carter and Lachlan McBurney from The Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University


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The Great Forest National Park is a large complex proposal, covering environmental impacts and the conservation of wildlife, economic benefits to the area and more. Visit our FAQ for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions
The traditional custodians of this country include the Bunurong (Boon Wurrung), Gunaikurnai, Taungurung (Daung warring) and Wurundjeri indigenous Australians. We acknowledge this land belongs to the sovereign people of the First Nations. This land was stolen from them and their sovereignty was never ceded. This park conservation plan is subject to ongoing discussions and approvals with relevant clans and corporations and fully supports and recognises all their cultural rights, control and access.


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