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Help create a survival plan for Leadbeater's Possum

Leadbeater's Possum. Photo: Emma Campbell

 

Published 10 May 2016

In April last year Victoria's faunal emblem, the tiny Leadbeater's Possum, was listed by the Australian Government as critically endangered.

That's just one step away from becoming extinct in the wild.

Now, a new national recovery plan could give us the tools we need to properly protect our faunal emblem from extinction, but only if the plan puts the possum's survival ahead of logging interests.

You can help by making a submission to the new plan.

 

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Why are we still logging Leadbeaters habitat?

The logging of Leadbeater's habitat in Victoria's Central Highlands continues despite the fact the possum is now listed as critically endangered.

Logging operations also fly in the face of recommendations from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which recommended a 'cessation of harvesting in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands'.

The existence of a Regional Forest Agreement for the Central Highlands is as a significent block to Leadbeaters protection.

The agreement makes it very difficult for Australia's environment minister to protect the species from extinction using current federal legislation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which does not apply in areas covered by an RFA.

Real action on Leadbeater's Possum protection will likely require changes to national environmental laws that put the survival of threatened species ahead of logging interests.

 

How to have your say

Under Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 a recovery plan sets out research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, listed threatened species or threatened ecological communities. Its aim is to maximise the long-term survival in the wild of a threatened species or ecological community.

Recovery plans should state what must be done to protect and restore important populations of threatened species and habitat, as well as how to manage and reduce threatening processes.

By having your say on the recovery plan through a simple submission you can help Australia properly protect Leadbeater's Possum and the Victorian forests in which it lives.

The full plan can be downloaded from the Environment Department's website, which also includes a review of the current plan and gives instructions for submissions.

 

Key points to make in your submission to the recovery plan:

- Past policies have failed, as documented in the review and indicated by the listing of Leadbeaters Possum to Critically Endangered in April 2015. This means that a substantially new and more committed management response is urgently needed, potentially including legislative changes.

- The purpose of this recovery plan is to stop the decline, and support the recovery, of Leadbeaters Possum with the objective of reducing the threat of extinction to less than 1% in 100 years. Funding allocated under this plan should be specifically dedicated to achieving these purposes, not to supporting or facilitating ongoing logging activities.

- All currently suitable and prospective habitat across the species' known range must be maintained, enhanced and effectively managed. No new forest roads should be constructed.

- All remaining 1939 regrowth must be protected, to enable recovery of at least 30% old-growth.

- Declare the Great Forest National Park, which will expand the dedicated reserve system to encompass all areas of likely occurrence of the species (currently and prospectively). It should also include areas of current and projected old-growth forests, at least 50% of the oldest forest in each Leadbeater's Management Unit (LMU); and such expansion should increase the connectivity of the reserve system, as well as protecting a range of other values, such as carbon or water.

 

- Outside the expanded reserve system, and during its development, all large, live and dead hollow-bearing trees in montane ash forests within the range of Leadbeater's possum must be protected with adequate (100 metre) buffers of uncleared vegetation around them.

- No logging should be allowed at any site unless comprehensive pre-logging surveys have demonstrated that Leadbeater's possum is not present.

- All existing colonies must be immediately and effectively protected by adequate buffers. The current 200m. buffers recommended by LPAG are inadequate and must be extended to 1000m.

- The role of logging in raising the medium-term (10 to 40 years) risk of high severity fires must be considered and conversely, management to reduce fire risk must include exclusion of logging. This risk is NOT mitigated by the use of retention harvesting.

- DO NOT conduct experiments with a Critically endangered species! In particular experiments with translocation must be removed from this plan. There is no successful precedent and no proven strategy for successful release is available.

- Re-establish an effective, independent Recovery Team to facilitate recovery coordination, consider and advise on the ethics and practicality of conservation proposals and to support front-line workers.

 

Send submissions to:

Email: recoveryplans@environment.gov.au
The Director
Terrestrial Threatened Species Section
Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Submissions close 20 May 2016

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