East Gippsland's forests provide critically important habitat for a number of nationally threatened species.
Since the late 1990s the logging industry in Victoria has been exempt from adhering to federal environment laws that protect our nationally threatened wildlife. The exemption is known as a "Regional Forest Agreement" (RFA).
Sadly because of this exemption, habitat for federally listed species can be logged.
Greater gliders are Australia's largest gliding marsupial. They are capable of gliding up to 100m through the air and like a koala they eat gum leaves. They need old growth forests with large hollow trees for nesting.
In 2016 greater gliders were listed as vulnerable under federal law. Very limited state based protections for greater gliders in East Gippsland were created over 20 years ago when the species was relatively common. These protections have failed. This is evidenced by a dramatic decline in the last 20 years, mainly due to extensive logging of habitat with very weak state based protections.
In other regions in Victoria, the species has no protection from logging whatsoever.
The greater glider’s decline shows how the RFAs have failed threatened species. Despite the greater glider’s listing as vulnerable under federal legislation, the outdated state based protections in East Gippsland have not been reviewed and strengthened in light of its decline and listing as threatened under federal law.
Long footed potoroo:
Long footed potoroos are only found in far eastern Victoria. They did occur in southern NSW but are currently believed to be extinct from that area.
The Victorian government's own scientists have recommended three times more habitat than is currently reserved for Potoroos should be protected if the species is to survive.
They are fungivores with most of their diet consisting of underground truffles. They move truffle species around the forest depositing truffle spores in their scats, which is the only way the truffle spores gets dispersed.
Many of these truffles have symbiotic relationships with the trees that grow in this forest. Truffle species may have co-evolved with long footed potoroos creating an ecological web that gives us the healthy forest that currently exists. Therefore long footed potoroos play an important role in keeping our forests healthy.
Large brown tree frog:
The large brown tree frog is listed as vulnerable under federal law.
It was thought to be extinct from Victoria until 2016 when GECO volunteers rediscovered it. It is now only known from six locations in Victoria.
Little is known about it's ecology. It is a forest dependent species that is thought to use tree hollows. Logging in its habitat has been identified as a threatening process that has contributed to its decline in Victoria.
Despite its listing as threatened under federal law logging can occur in habitat without an assessment of the impacts.
Spot tailed quoll:
The spot tailed quoll is listed as endangered under federal law.
Spot tailed quolls are top order predators closely related to Tasmanian devils. They sit at the top of the food chain and are a "keystone species", playing an important ecological role in maintaining the structure of ecological communities and the composition of species within the forest ecosystem.
The Victorian population of Spot tailed Quolls has declined dramatically over the past twenty years, particularly in East Gippsland where competition with foxes and wild dogs may be a contributing factor.
They utilize hollow logs and rocky escarpments as den sites and are excellent climbers. They have been observed predating on a variety of land based mammals such as wallabies and bandicoots, tree based mammals such as greater gliders and a variety of birds. Old growth forests with a variety of habitat features such as hollow logs are important habitat.
All these nationally listed threatened species can have their habitat logged without any assessment of the impacts under the federal legislation that is supposed to protect them!
Take action to make logging comply with federal laws and tell Premier Andrews not to extend the East Gippsland RFA.