The Andrews government has imminent plans to log forests which were supposed to be protected for the threatened Greater Glider. Back in 2018 we found a significant number of gliders in the Cottonwood area - we were told by the Environment Department that they were putting a protection area to save the gliders.
But we were alarmed when we saw the area was scheduled for logging in December, and was even resurveyed by the Environment Department earlier this year, even after they said they would protecting the forests!
Greater Glider found in Steps Track by GECO citizen scientists
The area was supposed to be set aside for the protection of a significant population of threatened Greater Gliders. The forests are in the Cottonwood State Forest - a known Greater Glider hotspot and critical unburnt refuge for them which wasn't impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires. The glider is set to be listed as endangered under state and federal laws in the next few years, and lost nearly a third of it's habitat in the catastrophic fires.
According to our joint report, After the Fires; Protecting our forest refuges, more than half of the Greater Gliders remaining unburnt habitat in East Gippsland is available for logging. Since the fires new research has revealed that the Errinundra, Cottonwood and Bendoc areas are some of the last most important remaining climate refuge areas for the glider - which is extremely sensitive to increased night-time temperatures.
Forests in Steps Track set to be logged in December
Despite the odds being stacked against the Greater Glider - and the known impacts that logging has on their habitat - the government is planning on logging forests which were meant to be set aside for their protection. On top of that, hundreds of new logging areas have been added to the schedule in key glider habitat since the bushfires. The high-elevation forests of the Cottonwood area also act as a critical climate refuge for the glider.
Not only is the government failing to put in place the most basic protections which are required by law - since the fires they are planning more destructive logging in some of the few remaining areas for the glider in East Gippsland, and continuing to log precious glider habitat across the Central Highlands.
Statement from Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) spokesperson Chris Schuringa:
"It is absolutely appalling that the government is planning to log these forests which should have been protected. It begs the question, what other protection areas will become fair game for logging? The Environment Department flat out refuses to reign in the illegal logging crisis crippling our forests, it's no wonder VicForests has gone completely rogue."
"Under the Andrews government Greater Glider numbers are plummeting, and their habitat is shrinking from devastating fires and years of destructive logging. The Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio must act to permanently protect these forests, and all other areas of critical glider habitat from the bulldozers. The laws in East Gippsland are outdated and poorly enforced, and new laws for the Central Highlands are useless and allow logging where gliders are found."
"In the past week we've seen a slew of evidence that VicForests needs to go. Illegal logging scandals, using public funds to spy on conservationists and academics, and a damning report showing they aren't regenerating forests, misleading the public with false claims of sustainability. The Andrews government is delusional if they think logging can continue till 2030. They need to end logging now."