Leadbeater's Possums Discovered

Gun Barrel Leadbeater's Possum

A tiny family of critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum have been captured on camera on the edge of a VicForests logging operation in the contested Toolangi logging zone.

The court case is underway to protect three critical habitat area’s in Toolangi, from being logged. One of the site camera's has produced 10,600 photo’s showing several Leadbeater’s (fairy) possums making a nest in a collapsing tree on the edge of the partially logged ‘Gun Barrel’ coupe.

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Gun Barrel Leadbeater's Possum

A tiny family of critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum has been captured on camera on the edge of a contested VicForests logging operation in the sensitive Toolangi logging zone.

MyEnvironment, the group behind a Supreme Court case to protect three coupes containing critical habitat in Toolangi from being logged, has received 10,600 photos showing Leadbeater’s (fairy) possums making a nest in a collapsing tree on the edge of the partially logged ‘Gun Barrel’ coupe.

Earlier this year VicForests defended a challenge of their right to log the habitat, with Justice Osborn ruling that the Leadbeater’s Possum Action Statement, made under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, did not independently impose obligations to protect the possum.

However Justice Osborn also called for an urgent review of the reserve system that is supposed to protect the Leadbeater’s possum habitat within the forested Central Highlands.

'MyEnvironment has demonstrated a strong case for the overall review of the adequacy of the reserve system intended to protect LBP habitat within the Central Highlands Forest Management Area. The [2009] bushfires have materially changed the circumstances in which the existing system was planned and implemented and there is, on the evidence, an urgent need to review it’  said Justice Robert Osborn, in his summary judgement.

“We undertook the case because VicForests wanted to log critical habitat of this unique tiny possum, in an area that survived the fires of Black Saturday when the surrounding forest burned. It is Victoria’s only endemic marsupial - our faunal emblem. Without changes to current forest management this special animal will be forced toward extinction, and many others that also rely on trees with hollows will be placed at risk,” said Steve Meacher, case spokesperson.

Leadbeater’s Possum are thought to number around 2000 in the wild, with 5 currently held in Healesville Sanctuary. More than 40% of their habitat burned in the bushfires in February 2009 and the unique population living in Snow Gums at Lake Mountain was wiped out. Studies by the Australian National University, the Arthur Rylah Institute and the Department of Sustainability and Environment have confirmed the absence of the possums from all fire-affected sites, irrespective of fire severity.

“The Leadbeater’s Possum is extremely sensitive and the sub-optimal site where this little family has been forced to nest is a tragic reminder of the species’ vulnerability. It is emergency housing liable to collapse in the near to medium future. When that happens the only option left for these animals will be to move into the partially logged Gun Barrel coupe. And that will have been chipped for copy paper if our appeal is not successful,”  said Mr Meacher.

“The fate of the tiny possum now rests with the Commonwealth as Premier Napthine's government has turned its back on the environment and Victoria’s endangered species,” said MyEnvironment President, Sarah Rees.