17 February, 2016

Greater glider discovery prompts call for change to pre-logging surveys

Elise Kinsella
ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 17 Feb 2016
Skilful in the air, but awkward on land - the greater glider, or clumsy possum as it is otherwise known, is having a big impact on the logging wars in Victoria's East Gippsland.

PHOTO: The Goongerah Environment Centre reportedly found 15 protected Greater Glider possums.
Last week the state's logger, VicForests, agreed to lock up 100 hectares of forest after environmentalists discovered 15 of the gliders.

Environmentalists argue VicForests has not done a good enough job at surveying the forests for protected rare and threatened species, so they are conducting their own surveys in other areas.

The Goongerah Environment Centre have completed a night search for the clumsy possum's smaller mate, the yellow-bellied glider.

In the remote Kuark forest, outside of Orbost, the centre's Ed Hill plays recordings of the powerful owl, a predator of the glider, to see if he could hear the frightened response.

"It's been a really successful survey," Mr Hill said.

"We've recorded 10 yellow-bellied gliders on our transect, which is fantastic. That's enough to get this area of forest protected."

The Goongerah Environment Centre wants to see Victoria's Environment Minister Lisa Neville hand over responsibility for these ecological surveys to an independent body, not VicForests.

They argue the logging body simply is not doing a good enough job.

Ms Neville said in a statement: "The Government is disappointed to see that rare and threatened species may have been impacted by the harvesting operations in question, if this community generated information had not been made available.

"We are currently working to ensure that in the future we are guided by the best available data, which will help improve decision making."

VicForests communications manager David Walsh said the logger would also be changing how it surveyed forests.

"VicForests wouldn't have found them [the animals] ourselves in that particular site, and as a result of that type of occurrence and information coming to us, we're now reviewing our overall approach to targeted pre-harvest fauna surveys for species like greater gliders," he said.

He said his organisation would consider any information it was given about the yellow-bellied glider.

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