Our chance to have a say in protecting Leadbeater’s Possum
First posted on: 19 March 2016
A draft Recovery Plan prepared for the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth’sEnvironment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is currently available for comment until 20 May 2016. The Rubicon Forest Protection Group urges members and friends to read and comment. It is our chance to have a say in protecting Leadbeater's Possum. See RFPG submission (21 April) here.
According to the draft plan, “the long term objective is to increase the extent, quality and connectivity of currently and prospectively suitable habitat, and its occupancy by Leadbeater’s possum, in order to maximise the probability of persistence of the species.”
Leadbeater’s Possum is critically endangered. This small, agile possum occurs almost exclusively in the majestic mountain ash and alpine ash forests that typically occur between 900m and 1200m on the Rubicon, Blue and Black ranges surrounding Alexandra to Marysville and Toolangi. The Black Spur is a popular tourist route through a good example of this impressive tall, wet forest with its distinctive tree ferns and lyrebirds.
Key threats to Leadbeater’s Possum survival are habitat loss, change and fragmentation, particularly loss of mature, hollow-bearing mountain or alpine ash trees and associated dense understorey shrubs. These major threats are caused by fires and forest harvesting activities, especially when combined such as following the 2009 bush fires. Despite prescriptions specifically designed to protect Leadbeater’s Possum habitat, the remaining populations continue to rapidly decline, resulting in small, isolated colonies of only a few animals that are increasingly susceptible to any habitat changes.
The challenge now is to make some hard decisions, whether to continue the current unsuccessful approach of trying to balance forest harvesting with biodiversity, most importantly, the survival of Leadbeater’s Possum and other threatened plants and animals, or to look at compatible opportunities such as tourism and recreation in these scenic landscapes.
Comments on the Draft Recovery Plan can be sent to:
Terrestrial Threatened Species Section
Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601