Tag Archives: Leadbeater’s Possum

Cruel blow for new national park and Leadbeater’s possums

A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater’s possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests locked in millions of dollars worth of new logging contracts.  (The Age, Nov 15th)

Rather than Democracy, Corporatocracy – or the power of corporations- determines the fate of our own Victorian fauna Emblem.

The decision to set up a taskforce to strike a “consensus” followed pressure during the campaign from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and and Energy Union, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on concerns that ending logging in the area would threaten Gippsland jobs.  Threats against “jobs” is more important than small and seemingly insignificant fairy possums!

VicForests’ latest annual report suggests “ending logging before the 2018 election could be difficult”.  Their annual report shows they’ve negotiated various contracts to harvest and haul 900,000 cubic  metres of wood a year for the next three or four years!

The same State government can’t endorse a new national park, and also be the owner of VicForests.  It’s a contraction of terms, and a conflict of interests.  What this national park needs to protect is the ancient old-growth forest of Mountain Ash, and threatened native species, not  the “logging industry and jobs”!  Economic growth and jobs will eventually eat up all our natural resources!

What needs protecting can’t have the same owners that threaten to destroy it, for short-term monetary gain. Our State’s fauna emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, needs protection from the same State government that is threatening the park’s implementation.

The Victorian state government revealed long-awaited terms of reference for an industry taskforce, established to navigate the explosive battles between loggers and environmentalists over the state’s native forests.  The taskforce will investigate issues including protection of threatened species such as the Leadbeater’s possum, job protection and economic activity.

Logging, conservation of the possums, are in direct conflict.  How is this impossible task to be negotiated?  You can’t have the old growth forests intact, and also have them chopped down, with Leadbeater’s possums losing their only homes?  Opening up the canopy of the forest will make them more vulnerable to fires, then the problem of the pesky possums will be solved- “naturally”.   Their final demise, extinction, will solve this tricky problem. Native forests animals are a threat to job protection, and constrict economic activities!

Conservations and scientists — including David Attenborough — have long argued that the park is needed to protect the possum, which is believed to be perilously close to extinction.  Clearly, “conservation” of logging jobs has priority over the conservation of our native animals, even threatened ones.  They prefer the possums go extinct rather than have logging jobs threatened. The mighty dollar has enormous power to wield over these decision, and the Great Forest National Park would be a threat to incomes!



(image:  Corduroy road built from native forest in the highly contested Gun Barrel logging coupe (297-526-0001), in Sylvia Creek Forest, north-east of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. This photo was taken on 13 September 2011, at which point logging had been banned here after the Victorian Supreme Court extended an injunction blocking the state-owned timber company, VicForests, from logging until at least February 2012, when the trial begins with MyEnvironment, a local environment organisation. The area is an important habitat for the endangered Leadbeater's possum, whose population was decimated by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.)

Lobby groups with vested interest in jobs, and logging, need to be given the chop!  The CFMEU want access to the forests for the benefit of their members.

This “blow” to the forest plan needs to be dealt with internally, from the State government.  The government’s position on logging in native forests is ambiguous, despite promising a special taskforce to examine the issue and help secure the long-term survival of Victoria’s iconic Leadbeater’s possum.

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia in Asia Minor. Located in the city of Gordium, the knot came to symbolize a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve.  Alexander the Great’s solution to the problem led to the saying, “cutting the Gordian knot,” which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.  The bold action needed in this case is to make the brave, courageous and glaringly obvious political decision – the implementation of the Great Forest National Park!  Not all groups can be appeased, especially if their aims are purely monetary and short-term.

You can’t have contradictory policies, and you can’t have your cake and eat it too!


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DELWP submission: Protecting Victorian Environment Biodiversity

We thank the Andrew’s Government for keeping its commitment to review a number of Victoria’s Environmental laws and to ensure our States’ biodiversity and environment is protected adequately.

Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc members attended DEWLP community consultation meetings recently. There was a lack of representation of wildlife species as a valued measure of biodiversity. Birdlife Australia was the only wildlife advocate represented. Despite the lack of wildlife groups, Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) were highlighted in both the draft paper and at the community consultation meetings. This augers poorly for Victoria’s biodiversity.

Victorians acting for Nature – It is an abiding principle that all Victorians should interact with Victoria’s biodiversity and connect with nature, as often as possible. But what do we consider to be good interactions ? It was suggested interactions the public could have with biodiversity and with animals is hunting and fishing. We are most concerned by this statement. How does DEWLP consider hunting & fishing beneficial to people, and how does it enhance Victoria’s biodiversity and environment? It is in our view that activities like hunting are inhumane to wildlife, destructive to the environment and restrictive to other users and groups accessing nature.

When it comes to encouraging people to connect with nature and to wildlife, DEWLP and the Victorian Government should instead encourage people to join wildlife care/rescue groups and wildlife survey groups. Volunteering and working to rescue wildlife can be beneficial in many ways, but it also can be exhausting and draining for those who fight to defend native animals. Therefore, it is important that DEWLP and the Victorian government support volunteers wherever possible.

Other Management Challenges (Better, Smarter Management of our Biodiversity) In order to save biodiversity, we need to plan for and understand our Ecological Vegetation Classes, and Fauna and Flora instead of trying to control/manage them. The decline of biodiversity and other management challenges listed on page 71 of the draft (including native environmental weeds, over abundant wildlife, pest animals and weeds as well as managing bushfires) share the same failings. It is the way that we as a species exploit the environment for a myriad of reasons. We cannot manage or control flora and fauna species to an equal balance, especially when we do not address actions that we as a society create. These create imbalances more often than not which leads to more local extinctions.

In the draft Report about kangaroos, Noisy Minors and sweet pittosporums are listed as native species that have become a problem. Kangaroos are listed in the draft as ‘can exert high grazing pressure on native plants and wild flowers, a bit like rabbits, and can destroy habitat that ground dwelling native animals may need to survive’. Where is the evidence for this statement?

It is on the Departments’ website, in a case study about the Woodlands Historic Park! Kangaroos were fenced in for the reintroduction of Eastern Barred Bandicoots? Kangaroos are a species that move across the environment grazing short grass and reducing fuel loads. Fencing this animal in, and reducing its capacity to move through the landscape will have a negative effect on the landscape. However the environmental effects are not only going to be limited to areas where the animal is restricted. It will also have an environmental impact from where the animals have been restricted.

Noisy minors are mentioned in the draft as ‘a native honeyeater that aggressively excludes other native birds from favoured woodland habitat. Where woodland has declined or become fragmented, competition for habitat resources increases; the Noisy minor has a significant impact on the survival of other birds.’ It is nor the Noisy minor that is the problem, but woodlands decline, fragmentation and the need for increased resources.

Native plants like pittosporums and other noxious weeds have become important habitat for both plants & animals. While it is important to remove these plants, its’ more important to do so in a sensitive manner, one that does not further impact on our biodiversity. Sweet pittosporum can be important nesting habitat for the Eastern Yellow Robins, while Cherry ballarts (an epiphyte shrub) can use its roots to grow from pittosporums.
Threatened species National Threatened Species Day is the 7th September each year. It is celebrated or commiserated (depending on your view), as it was the day the last Tasmanian tiger died, forever relegated to the pages of history. We should and can learn from this sad episode in our nation’s history. Tasmanian Tigers were hunted to extinction primarily because they were perceived as a pest. In 2016 the Vic Government approved the cull of 25,000 kangaroos for the pet food industry’s ongoing trial. The sober reality is there is no known population of kangaroo numbers in Victoria.

Do we accept such drastic decisions about our wildlife, when we don’t even know the facts about the kangaroo species. It’s time to review a department responsible for both the protection of kangaroos and  issues An Authority to Control (Kill) Wildlife Permits (ATCW). The responsibility we have is to fight extinction and ensure the survival of our heritage. I have two daughters age 10 and 7. In their lifetime, it’s become just about impossible for them to view an Orange bellied parrot in the wild, or a southern brown bandicoot on the Mornington Peninsula. It is essential that we have up to date recovery plans and action statements for all threatened species and implement them for future generations.

Linking our society and economy to the environment,  In stead of linking our society and economy to the environment we should instead be linking our society, health, well being, heritage and history to and with the environment. There is more to the environment than having a financial need. There will be opportunities for those who wish pay for an experience in nature, but importantly to understand is that Victoria’s biodiversity and environment values has other qualities than those of a financial one.

Accounting for the environment:

The costs of logging old growth forests in the central highlands and East Gippsland are outdated. They continue to push threatened species closer to extinction. One such animal is the Leadbeaters possum, it was rediscovered over 20 years after it was thought to be extinct. The possum was rediscovered in the central highlands, where its prime habitat is being logged. The rediscovery of the Leadbeaters or fairy possum was a big deal at the time and as such named Victoria’s faunal emblem. It actually was the first flora and faunal emblem used in Australia. How does any extractive industry (especially one that runs at a cost such as Vic forests) account for the loss of a species, like that of the Leadbeaters possum. So we call for the creation of the Great Forest National Park in the Central highlands. We also call for investment in to the renewable energy sector and the phasing out of the out dated energy sectors that cause climate change causing pollutions. This environmental counting will give species threatened with extinction from climate change a better chance of survival into the future.

We would like to know if environmental accounting takes into account the financial sacrifices of those who rescue wildlife or defend the environment in VCAT or many other court proceedings? One such group is Save Tootgarook Swamp Inc, who have a VCAT hearing coming up P2704/2015 which is a development application which still has out standing enforcement orders for clearing habitat for the critically endangered Australasian bittern.

Ministers forward – Don’t let this draft document become nothing like other previous drafts, white and green papers before it, from previous governments. The more ministers who write about the values of our environment only to leave office with the environment in a worse state. We’ll makes new efforts and obtain statements from future politicians look like mere rhetoric.


Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc takes pride in Victoria’s fauna and advocates for all wildlife to flourish, evolve and survive into the future despite their ability to survive climate change, and their ability to adapt with human developments or their conservation status. We connect with nature in a myriad of ways including the pain and distress caused by the suffering of wildlife and destruction of their environment

We thank the government for this opportunity to contribute to the future of Victoria’s Biodiversity 2036.

Kind regards,
Craig Thomson
Wildlife Planning Officer, Australian Wildlife Protection Council

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Great Forest National Park urgently needed

Great Forest National Park needs your pledge.

Victoria is still far from having a comprehensive, adequate and representative national park and conservation system, and most major threats to nature identified in past reviews are still very much with us – habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, harmful fire regimes, over-grazing, modified water flows. Precious habitat remnants are being bulldozed for urban expansion or roads. Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia, populations of native birds and animals are in freefall, and less than 25% of our rivers and creeks are in good condition.

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;

1. Conservation of near extinct wildlife and plants after Black Saturday and in light of future fire events.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

The tallest flowering trees on Earth grow north-east of Melbourne. In their high canopies dwell owls, gliders and the tiny Leadbeater’s (or Fairy) Possum. Victoria’s precious and endangered faunal emblem lives only in these ash forests of the Central Highlands.

Mountain_Ash_in_Victoria(image: Mountain Ash, Black Spur, Victoria)

David Lindenmayer, from the Australian National University, is an ecologist and conservation biologist who has spent over 30 years studying the Mountain Ash Forest of Victoria.

‘There’s a little mixture of things that always want to have the last word. The Lyrebird is one and the Kookaburra is another and the Eastern Yellow Robin and the Pilot Bird are two others,’ he says.

Eastern_yellow_robin(image: Eastern Yellow Robin, Victoria)

‘The birds are calling less than in the morning, but still nevertheless calling, and they’re just confirming their territories before there’s an extraordinary change in the light in this long dusk period,’
says Lindenmayer.

The Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum, are threatened by ongoing clear-felling and bushfires.
The population of large old hollow-bearing trees has collapsed. These are a critical habitat for the animals that use them, including Leadbeater’s Possum. There is a high risk that the possums will become exinct in the next 20-40 years.


(image source: http://www.greatforestnationalpark.com.au/park-plan.html)

Home to threatened species, including Victoria’s animal emblem – the Fairy Possum, the proposed park will also be a sanctuary, providing real and lasting protection to some of Victoria’s, and the world’s, rarest plant and animal species. Prominent environmentalists Tim Flannery and Bob Brown have lent their support to the campaign. Sir David Attenborough has weighed into the state election, backing a call for the creation of a Great Forest National Park to protect the state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum.

The environmentalist’s intervention comes as a survey found 89 per cent of Victorians support the creation of a new national park in the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands.

Logging over many years had previously reduced the Leadbeater’s possum down to a fraction of its original range and now only around one per cent of mountain ash forest is old growth. A new ‘taskforce’ attempts to negotiate the future of the logging industry in the central highlands of Victoria and the possible creation of the new national park, in light of the critical status of Leadbeater’s Possums.

The state government — elected in November — has so far made no official commitment to the proposed 355,000-hectare Great Forest National Park, which would include both recreational areas and conservation zones.


The good news is that the Victorian Government has given its strongest indication yet that it is open to ending clearfelling and closing down the hardwood timber industry in key parts of Victoria’s Central Highlands to prevent the extinction of the Leadbeater’s Possum.

‘The time for further reviews and studies is over. The only thing that will save Leadbeater’s Possums from extinction is to immediately stop the clearfell logging of the forest it lives in,’
Greens Senator Rice said.

Join the Great Forest National Park Volunteer Campaign Team. Text ‘GFNP volunteer’ to 0428 029 437. http://wilderness.org.au/articles/great-forest-national-park#sthash.UHAmATbg.dpuf

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Victorian state emblem Leadbeater’s possum pushed closer to extinction

Victoria’s state animal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, is set to be formally recognised as being on the brink of extinction. But the state government has again stopped short of backing a new national park to protect the Leadbeater’s habitat, which conservationists and many scientists say is crucial to ensuring the species’ survival.

The species lives primarily in the ash forests and sub-alpine woodlands of Victoria’s central highlands, with a small lowland population to the east of Melbourne.

In face of this challenge, Environment Minister Lisa Neville will instigate more surveys, without actually promoting what’s actually needed – a new National Park! More paper-shuffling, procrastination, political spin and riding roughshod over the best advice, but no actual progress in protecting our State’s dying emblem from the threatening process – logging!

This Fairy Possum is so elusive it was thought to be extinct until it was re-discovered in 1961. It’s endemic to Victoria. We all know what needs to be done to save it… the extinction of the species is entirely preventable. Australian Paper’s ongoing use of wood pulp from VicForests, which fails to meet sawmill production quality standards, is sourced from known Leadbeater’s possum habitats. Populations of large, old trees necessary for the survival of Leadbeater’s Possum (and many other vertebrates) are crashing to historically low levels. Unburned and unlogged old-growth forest now covers just 1.16% of the mountain ash forest estate – probably the most limited extent in the evolutionary history of this tree species.

Leadbeater’s Possum is an arboreal marsupial with soft grey fur. It has a prominent dark brown stripe along its back and is pale underneath. Its ears are thin, large and rounded and it grows up to 17 cm in length. Its thick tail grows to 18 cm in length. A wildfire in 1939 created suitable habitat for the Leadbeater’s Possum’s current range and led to a peak in population numbers, estimated to be about 7500 individuals in the early 1980s. This population estimate is predicted to undergo a 90% reduction by 2025. Nobody would call this population dwindling “sustainable”.

According to official State government sources, the Victorian Government is committed to supporting the recovery of the State’s faunal emblem – the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.

The Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group was established in 2013 to provide recommendations that support the recovery of the possum, while in an apparent oxymoron, is committed to maintaining a sustainable timber industrythe same “sustainable” timber industry that’s largely wiping out the species!

In a great twist of irony, a mixture of oxymorons, and loaded contradictory terms, the government is trying to “save” the Leadbeater’s Possum, whilst at the same time preserving the environmental and socio-economic values of our logging the old-growth forests – their home! Surely the species dependant on the forests are integral to their environment, and can’t be surgically dissected from logging profits! Wonder what the important “socio-economic” values of the logging industry are if it destroys our own State’s native emblem in the process?  More like bulldozer diplomacy.

New measures by our State government include VicForests commencing a program of remote camera surveys to look for Leadbeater’s Possum colonies in targeted areas planned for harvest, that will complement existing measures such as the protection of habitat and retention harvesting in forest outside of the reserve system. (Premier of Victoria media release: Protecting Victoria’s Iconic Leadbeater’s Possum Friday 17 April 2015)


(image: George is a taxidermied male Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) that Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum uses for it’s educational work concerning this threatened species. George was found dead but intact on the side of a logging road about 2011 in the Victorian Central Highlands. It is assumed that George’s home in the mountain ash (Eucalyptus Regnans) forests was a victim of logging, and as his home was being carted away he fell off the logging truck.)

They are going to great length to preserve their political integrity, and their reputation as being environmentally friendly, with a “proud history of protecting and enhancing the natural environment”… but fall short of actually ending the timber harvests in the Central Highlands of Victoria the Leadbeater Possums rely on!  You can’t keep your cake and eat it too.

The proposed Great Forest National Park park would add 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria by amalgamating a group of smaller parks. The park would stretch from Healesville to Kinglake in the west, through to Baw-Baw plateau in the east and north to Eildon. A new national park is needed not only to conserve possums and forests, but to protect carbon stocks, water supplies and lower the risk of bushfires. Surely such a new forest National park would be a win-win for Victoria, on numerous levels, and embrace much more socio-economic values that VicForests’ destructive logging “harvests”.

Numerous conservationists and scientists – including Sir David Attenborough and Dr Jane Goodall – have supported a campaign to set up the “Great Forest National Park” in the region, which would encompass much of the highlands forest.  The value of the forests for their natural qualities can’t be seen for the dollars worth of the trees!

The Australian Greens say that the Future of our forests treated as little more than garbage. The time has come to acknowledge that Regional Forest Agreements have failed to protect our carbon stores, our water catchments, our local jobs and communities, and so many of our unique plants and animals,” said the Greens forests spokesperson Senator Janet Rice. “We’ve seen the impact Regional Forest Agreements have had on the decline of the Swift Parrot in Tasmania and the Leadbeater’s Possum in Victoria – they are both hurtling towards extinction”.

Letterboxing for the Great Forest National Park– The Wilderness Society.


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