Two of Victoria’s official wildlife emblems are in trouble – but you can help. A visionary habitat restoration program to save them desperately needs your support to ensure that it goes ahead.
The critically-endangered helmeted honeyeater (fewer than 250 birds) and the lowland Leadbeater’s possum (probably fewer than 60 animals) are restricted to a tiny, fragmented reserve at Yellingbo, east of Melbourne. But it’s just not big enough to guarantee their survival.
The lowland Leadbeater’s possum is a genetically distinct subspecies, different to the critically-endangered Leadbeater’s possum threatened in the Central Highlands.
We urgently need to find other sites with suitable habitat to sustain new populations of at least 100 individuals of each species.
Fortunately, there is currently a great opportunity to do exactly that. Haining Farm, not far from Yellingbo, is a Parks Victoria property with some good remnant vegetation. There are currently three options for its future:
Concept 1 mixes farming and conservation, but will not provide enough habitat.
Concept 2 focuses on farming and tourism, with very limited habitat.
Concept 3 aims for careful habitat restoration. It is the only option that offers new hope for helmeted honeyeaters and lowland Leadbeater’s possums.
Importantly, Concept 3 also allows the greatest community access and retains options for education programs and local tourism.
Some of the local residents are concerned that the revegetation will increase the fire risk. While Concept 3 involves a considerable increase in bushland, independent fire experts and DELWP fire modelling have assessed the proposal and concluded that the careful planning of the revegetation will not add any significant risk to the region. All three options bring no significant additional fire risk. Importantly, the area is well-served by rapid attack firefighting aircraft; two helicopters and two air cranes can now get to the area within 12 minutes of a fire breaking out
Haining Farm, situated at the confluence of the Yarra River and the Don River, was given to the state of Victoria as a site for conservation and education. At 59 hectares, with the right type of restoration it is big enough to support 190 helmeted honeyeaters and 85 lowland Leadbeater’s possums. Both animals use similar habitat based on swampy Manna Gum and Mountain Swamp Gum forests along the Yarra River and its tributaries. Unfortunately most of this type of landscape was cleared long ago. Haining Farm’s location on the river connects it to other habitat that will support even greater numbers of animals.
A partnership of Greening Australia, Parks Victoria and Zoos Victoria has developed the plan to revegetate the farm with habitat for helmeted honeyeaters and lowland Leadbeater’s possums.
Concept 3 has secured over $1.2 million of funding – enough to make it a reality.
How can you help?
We need people to support Concept 3 by going to this website and completing the survey by Sunday 2 July 2017. You can also see a detailed map and description of each proposal.
In addition you can also write a submission directly to the Minister clearly stating your support for Haining Farm Concept 3:
The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change lily.d’[email protected]