Cottonwood range Greater Glider habitat getting the chop

An important hot spot for the threatened Greater Glider is being logged. Logging by VicForests in the 'Shazam' coupe in the Cottonwood range on the Errinundra plateau near the town of Bendoc in East Gippsland begun over two weeks ago. The forest supports many large old trees with hollows that form important habitat for a population of Greater Gliders. The forest was featured in our recently released research report 'Gliding towards extinction' report as a example of documented Greater Glider habitat that is threatened by logging. 

The report documented Greater Glider habitat that has been logged since the species was listed as threatened under Victorian law and habitat that is planned to be logged in the future where Greater Gliders have been documented.

The listing of the Greater Glider as threatened under the Flora and Flora Guarantee Act requires the preparation of an action plan that outlines how threats like logging will be managed, but two years after the species listing no plan exists and logging in high quality habitat has continued without any updated protections.   

The Age newspaper reported on our research report and the failure of the Andrews Labor government to protect the Greater Glider. 

Photo: Large old tree pushed over by VicForests 

Logging in the Shazam coupe is removing large old trees with hollows that the Gliders depend on for denning. The logging is also taking out important feeding areas for Greater Gliders.    

Photo: Heavily disturbed forest in the Shazam coupe 

GECO has documented several Greater Gliders in this area. It is a well known hotspot for the Glider but logging is continuing. Logging in the Shazam coupe is removing quality habitat and reducing the overall extent of high quality habitat in the Cottonwood range. 

Read GECO survey reports here and here. 

You can take action by contacting Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio and Premier Daniel Andrews, calling on them to bring forward protections for the Greater Glider and remove logging from quality habitat such as the Shazam coupe in the Cottonwood range, East Gippsland. 

The Premier of Victoria the Hon Daniel Andrews MP

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

Ph: (03) 9548 5634

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for suburban development, The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP

lily.d'ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au

Ph: (03) 8392 2100

Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002 

Photo: Hollow bearing tree knocked over by VicForests.  

Recent surveys in the coupe also revealed a tree marked 'H' for habitat has come down in the logging operation. It's unclear if it was deliberately knocked over by the logging contractors or if it fell over in high winds after the forest surrounding it was cleared leaving it exposed. We've asked VicForests to explain what happened.

Photos: Fallen habitat tree in the 'Shazam' coupe

The logging operation in the Cottonwood range is removing large old trees from the landscape. Trees that are hundreds of years old that have hollows that wildlife use are being removed. Our surveys documented Greater Gliders in the neighbouring coupe 'Abracadabra' in 2016 and logging was halted. But now logging is occurring right next door in the same habitat, including in locations where our surveys detected Greater Gliders. 

VicForests argue that this coupe is being logged with a lighter touch and more trees will be retained. However there is no evidence to suggest that Greater Gliders can survive VicForests adjusted logging techniques which at their best appear to be experimental.

In 2018 it was revealed that VicForests experimental logging techniques in Greater Glider habitat are part of a controversial experiment called the Greater Glider project. The ABC revealed that areas of high quality Greater Glider habitat were being logged by VicForests to see how many survive. VicForests biodiversity staff admitted that the experiment was 'very likely' to kill Greater Gliders.

Photo: Logging in the Shazam coupe 

It's unclear if logging in the Shazam coupe in the Cottonwood range is part of VicForests 'Greater Glider project' however what is clear from recent surveys of the logging is that Greater Gliders will not survive the logging.  

Photo: Logging in the Shazam coupe 

 

These two large old Errinundra shining gums could be logged this week as logging advances towards them, site inspections revealed these trees were not marked to be retained and were within the planned logging zone, they may have been  destroyed by now. 

Photo: Logging in the Shazam coupe 

VicForests are required to protect trees greater than 2.5 diameter, but as logging commenced recently our volunteer surveyors identified a number of trees larger than 2.5m diameter that had not been marked to be retained. We reported the large trees to the environment department just in time and VicForests were forced to adjust their logging plans and retain these giants.  

This shows VicForest can't be trusted when it comes to identifying trees that meet the size to trigger protection, it also shows how the environment department's pre logging surveys are failing to adequately identify environmental values that require protection, and again it's left up to the community to step in.

Luckily for a few large old trees, GECO surveys took place just in time and now those trees will be spared. But we didn't have time to search the whole area whilst the logging commenced, there may be other giants that VicForests do not identify that could be destroyed.


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