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Government Moves to save Victoria's iconic Leadbeater's possum

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, 22 April 2015

After carefully considering advice from the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee and submissions from experts, interested organisations and the wider community, I have decided to list the Leadbeater's possum as a 'critically endangered' species.

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The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, 22 April 2015

Government moves to save Victoria’s iconic Leadbeater’s possum
After carefully considering advice from the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committeeand submissions from experts, interested organisations and the wider community, I have decided tolist the Leadbeater’s possum as a ‘critically endangered’ species.
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s recommendation was clear and unequivocalregarding the need to transfer the species from endangered to critically endangered.This means Victoria’s faunal emblem will now receive the highest level of protection under nationalenvironment law.Leadbeater’s possums have very specific habitat requirements in order for them to survive andflourish. Sadly, almost half of the possum’s ideal habitat – the old-growth mountain ash forest inthe Central Highlands of Victoria – was burnt in the 2009 bushfires.
The challenges facing this iconic species are significant. It has undergone very severe populationdeclines in recent decades with numbers having decreased by more than 80 per cent since themid 1980s.
That is why we will be working closely with the Victorian Government to find a solution which willhelp save the possum for future generations.
First and foremost, I have already asked my Department to work with Victorian Governmentofficials and commence a review and update of the Leadbeater’s possum draft Recovery Plan. ThisPlan must be finalised and acted upon.
The Australian Government is already taking significant action to protect threatened species. In2014, we initiated a new national approach to saving our threatened species with the appointment ofAustralia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner. Since then, we have invested more than $76million for practical science-based actions, to turn around species declines.
As an example, the Australian Government is supporting Zoos Victoria to grow habitat for lowlandLeadbeater’s possum and helmeted honeyeater populations. Through funding under the 20 MillionTree Programme, the Government will help Zoos Victoria to plant 112,000 trees at CoranderrkBushland Reserve which will provide breeding populations of these species with suitable habitat tohelp their recovery.
In addition, the Australian Government’s National Environment Science Programme ThreatenedSpecies Recovery Hub will be investing $30 million over the next six years in practical science andfield work to test and explore options to tackle the threats to our native animals and plants.
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