Newsflash: We need some good news and here it is!
Setting a national precedent for threatened wildlife.
TWO CITIZEN/ COMMUNITY groups have secured court wins in the past month that should encourage wildlife defenders not to yield easily to the policy status quo. The cases revolved around development clearing or logging of remaining native forest, habitat for forest-dwelling wildlife. Greater gliders (pictured here, photo Hans and Judy Beste) were a focus in both cases.
In Victoria, Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum (FLBP), with the legal help of Enviro Justice Australia, secured a win against the state logging operation, VicForests, to protect the threatened Greater Glider and Leadbeater’s Possum from the chainsaws. The high canopies and deep hollows in the forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands that these native animals rely on will continue to stand as a result.
The court decision should set a national precedent for threatened wildlife, said Enviro Justice Australia in a communication to supporters. They praised the amazing community effort, including regional residents who spearheaded FLBP, citizen scientists and the legal team plus people from around Australia who donated dollars to the court action — always an expensive exercise.
Logging exempted from federal environmental law
“This decision sets an important legal precedent applying federal threatened species protection law to the logging industry, which has operated under a special exemption from federal environment law for more than 20 years. It will have implications for native forest logging and threatened species protection around the country.
This outcome will narrow that exemption and could also see the precautionary principle — that ensures serious or irreversible damage to threatened species is avoided wherever possible — applied in new situations to protect threatened species from harmful conduct. The decision also highlighted the flaw in a lot of Australian wildlife a management — never getting out of the office.
The judge explained the decision thus:
“The Court has found that in planning and conducting its forestry operations and in the choice of which native forests should be logged, and how it should be logged, VicForests’ consideration and application of management options pays insufficient regard to matters such as the high quality of the habitat for the Greater Glider in the impugned coupes, the detections of Greater Gliders in fact using and occupying the forests in and around those coupes and the effects of wildlife on Greater Glider habitat in reserves and national parks. Instead, the court has found VicForests relies on “desktop” and other theoretical methods, which the court has found to be flawed, such as VicForests’ habitat mapping.” — Justice Mortimer.
NSW community doesn’t give up on fight for Glider
In NSW meanwhile, a determined community group that included most of the residents of the south coast community of Manyana, Shoalhaven, achieved a federal court-ordered temporary halt for assessment of wildlife presence in the last patch of unburned forest in their area. The threat is subdivision development. The court ordered a pause to assess whether the forest is habitat for the endangered Greater Glider as well as other forest-dependent wildlife.
Residents resorted to media-catching activities like yoga beside the road and surf-board sculptures and enlisted the help of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).
With the surrounding bushland burned down in the 2019–2020 fires, the residents fired-up a change.org petition gaining close to 200,000 signatures so far; lobbied NSW politicians; and enlisted celebrity help and the EDO to stop the bulldozers from clearing for a large suburban-style subdivision. That subdivision had first achieved NSW planning approval a decade ago.
The case highlights the threats and impacts of global warming, droughts and fires on top of the ordinary development threats to Australia’s native species.
A big win for a little community.
By Bill Eger. Manyana, Australia.