Greater Gliders need habitat. Instead of safe refuges in new parks they’ve been given the silent treatment. Decision-makers in parliament could protect the forest homes of Australia’s largest flying mammal, they just need to approve expert recommendations to create new logging-free national parks.
Large numbers of these fuzzy-eared, fussy-eater were devastated by the Victorian bushfires. The Greater Glider is already up against habitat logging, invasive pests and the impacts of the climate crisis.
A copy of the letter you’re sending is in yellow below.
Dear Ministers of Cabinet,
Re: Make our Gliders Great again
I commend the efforts of the Victorian Government in responding to both the Covid-19 and bushfire crises.
While the health crisis is currently the priority, we understand that you as a core member of the Andrews Government, may need to make a decision to support the recommendations for new national parks in Victoria’s central west.
Protecting our remaining unburnt forest is now more important than ever. As you know, over 1.4 million hectares of our landscapes have burnt, including sixty per cent of state forest in East Gippsland, and as summer continues, more are at risk.
I understand under the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council legislation a response was required in early February 2020, regarding it recommendation to establish new national parks in the central west.
Though that date has passed, I call on you to support new national parks in the central west.
Australia’s largest gliding mammal, the Greater Glider, depends on these forests for survival. Some of their most significant remaining forest habitat is in the Wombat Forest, in central western Victoria. There are 380 other threatened species that rely on this habitat too.
Despite their sheer size, reaching up to one metre in length, these cute creatures are designed for flight. Their family groups rely on old hollow bearing trees for shelter and nesting. Recognisable by their teddy-like large furry ears, these gliding nocturnes are well-loved by Victorians and visitors.
Tragically it is estimated that the Victorian bushfires in areas like East Gippsland reduced the Greater Glider population by at least twenty-five per cent. The Glider has already seen a decline by half over the last twenty years, even more in other places. They are now in genetic decline and their habitat continues to contract because of logging, fire and the impacts of climate change.
It is now more important than ever to safeguard the forests left on public land, where biodiversity values are greatest. The Wombat Forest in Victoria’s central west is one of these special places recommended and worthy of better protection in a national park.
The Wombat is one of the strongholds for the Greater Glider across the state, and the only population of this threatened species west of the Hume Highway.
The new park recommendations include almost 60,000 hectares of new national park and reserves for the Mount Cole and Pyrenees Ranges (near Beaufort and Avoca), and the Wombat (near Daylesford) and Wellsford (near Bendigo) Forests. This is in addition to 19,000 hectares of regional park allowing almost all forms of recreation.
In the context of the bushfires, making an area a national park makes no difference to fire management, where Forest Fire Victoria, an arm of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), controls fire management on public land, including in both national parks, and state forest.
Supporting the decision to protect the forests of the central west in new parks will not only be important for iconic species such as the Greater Glider, but also for protecting the headwaters of many significant rivers such as the Lerderderg and Wimmera Rivers which are key water supplies.
People need parks. As the Victorian community continues to grow, we need more natural areas for respite and recreation, and these new parks easily accessible to the west of the state are greatly needed, particularly for the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne.
Victoria’s parks estate contributes $2.1 billion annually to the economy through park tourism and supports 20,000 jobs. Adding new parks would give opportunity to regional areas.
This is a potentially momentous occasion for your government if supported, and would signify the largest creation of new national parks in over a decade. Protecting Victoria’s remaining unburnt forests are increasingly critical for wildlife, water, climate, community wellbeing and tourism.
Please protect the Greater Glider, our rivers, forests and communities by making the decision to support the now overdue recommendations in Victoria’s Central West Investigation.