Local conservationists step in to protect Leadbeater’s Possum habitat targeted by state government loggers at Nolan’s Gully

Monday 16 September, 2013

Known forest habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum is today being highlighted by conservationists as state government loggers, VicForests, continues to allow bulldozers in the Toolangi State Forest.

Fifteen conservationists are protesting on the ground in the logging area at Nolan’s Gully, while a female aborist is suspended in a tree-sit rigged to both logging machinery and to a towering sixty metre tall Mountain Ash tree – the species of tree that is home of the Leadbeater’s Possum.

“If the Napthine government is serious about protecting Victoria’s animal emblem from extinction by logging, they would immediately suspend all logging operations in known Leadbeater’s habitat,” says Wilderness Society (Victoria) Community Campaigner, Kevi Sanyu.
“Significant areas of Toolangi State Forest miraculously didn’t burn in the 2009 bushfires. It is a known refuge for the Leadbeater’s Possum. Yet today the Napthine government allows the area to be logged, primarily for woodchips.”
Leading expert on the Leadbeater’s Possum, Professor David Lindenamyer has called for an end to clearfell logging in Mountain Ash forests by December 2013.
“Professor David Lindenmayer has released new management prescriptions outlining the steps that need to be taken to rescue the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction. These should be implemented without delay,” says Lauren Caulfield of Friends of the Earth, speaking in support of the Central Highlands Action Group.
This week saw the much-awaited public release of the Arthur Rylah Institute’s report on threatened species in Victoria.
“The science shows 177,000 hectares of unlogged forest is required to ensure the adult population of female Leadbeater’s Possum has a less than 10 per cent chance of falling below 200 females,” says Kevi Sanyu.
“It’s obvious that the era of logging our native forests for woodchips is over, or we risk losing our state emblem.”
Surveys showing the prevalence of hollow-bearing trees – prime and critical habitat for Leadbeater’s Possums – have been submitted to government.
“The Flora and Fauna Research Collective is now seeking legal advice as the response from government to their surveys was unsatisfactory; the logging of Nolan’s Gully forest went ahead, despite clear evidence of suitable Leadbeater’s Possum habitat,” says Lauren Caulfield.
“It is a gross dereliction for the state’s environment minister, Ryan Smith, not to be taking effective and immediate action to protect known Leadbeater’s habitat in Nolan’s Gully from logging,” says Lauren Caulfield.
“The Napthine government seems intent on allowing the state’s mascot to be logged towards extinction. Should the Abbott government establish a new Threatened Species Commissioner as promised, it appears Victoria’s animal emblem will require the Commissioner’s immediate attention,” concluded Lauren Caulfield.

For comment
Lauren Caulfield, Friends of the Earth 0408 748 939
Kevi Sanyu, the Wilderness Society (Victoria) 0402 935 410