04 October, 2010

Management helps our state icon

Max Rheese, Victorian Lands Alliance, Benalla
The Age (letter), 4 October 2010

HIS zeal for an end to sustainable catchment timber harvesting obscures the facts for David Lindenmayer (''Hello possum, you're an emblem of extinction'', The Age, 2/10), who states ''forestry is the key threatening process'' endangering habitat for Leadbeater's possum.

As the article states, Leadbeater's possum was rediscovered in 1961, in Central Highlands forests ravaged by fires in 1939, recovering to a population of 8000 despite 150 years of timber harvesting.

Lindenmayer and many others have previously identified fire as the ultimate determinant of forest structure in Victoria, while arguing for an end to timber harvesting in native forests. They have thus identified a supposed solution that will have no effect on fire as the primary cause of habitat change.

In his book On Borrowed Time, Lindenmayer argues for improved fire management to protect our forests, a commonsense argument recently accepted by the Victorian government.

Leadbeater's possum and other forest species will benefit enormously if their habitat is managed for the primary risk potentially affecting tens of thousands of hectares of habitat on a single day, as we saw on Black Saturday, rather than campaigns against socially beneficial timber production spread over a few hundred hectares in an entire year.

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