The Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) has made a final recommendation to list the greater glider as a protected species on the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act.
The greater glider was nominated for listing last year, the SAC final recommendation has now been forwarded to Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio who has 30 days to decide whether the species will be listed.
Listing the greater glider on the FFG Act must be swiftly followed by measures to strengthen protections for the species in state forests subject to logging.
The Greater glider is Australia's largest gliding marsupial. It occupies very small home ranges, needs old growth trees with hollows for denning and eats gum leaves.
The Federal Government listed the species as Vulnerable to extinction on the federal threatened species list, in May 2016.
The final recommendations to list the glider under Victorian legislation is a further warning that actions to halt the decline of the species are urgently required.
The SAC found the species satisfied two criteria to make it eligible for listing.
The taxon is in a demonstrable state of decline which is likely to result in extinction.
Significant declines have been observed in both the Central Highlands and East Gippsland
The taxon is significantly prone to future threats which are likely to result in extinction.
Sub Criterion 1.2.2
The threat is currently operating and is expected to operate in the future which is likely to result in extinction of the taxon
Logging native forests (timber harvesting) has been identified as one of these threats.
Here's what the SAC's final recommendation said about logging's impacts on greater gliders.
"Timber harvesting in greater glider habitat has been proven to cause declines and or local extinctions of greater glider populations. Timber harvesting practices reduces the number of hollow bearing trees available for denning by tree removal or as a result of regeneration burns after logging.
In addition the species does not cope well with habitat change. Although the animals may not die from the initial impact they will die shortly afterwards. This is due to life history traits: affinity with home range, small home ranges, attachment to hollow bearing trees they use for denning and their specialist diet.
In Victoria timber harvesting is widespread in the eastern and central parts of the state. This is also the main distribution and habitat of the greater glider. Considering the known impacts of timber harvesting on greater gliders, it is likely that other local extinctions of the species have already occurred and will continue to occur in the future."
Known greater glider habitat in the Cottonwood range, earmarked for logging.
There is now a clear and urgent need for the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning to strengthen protections for greater gliders in areas of state forest subject to logging operations.
In East Gippsland the current protections are extremely limited and out of date. The protections were designed twenty years ago when the species was common, since then the species has declined to become threatened.
In East Gippsland where more than 10 greater gliders are found over a distance of 1km a protection zone must be established. If 7, 8 or 9 greater gliders are found no protection is required and known and documented habitat is logged.
The more the species declines, the harder it becomes to find greater gliders in numbers that trigger protection.
Elsewhere in Victoria there are no protections for greater gliders. Recent surveys by WOTCH in the Central Highlands state and the community in the Strathbogies forest found greater gliders in areas earmarked for logging.
Due to the lack of any protections these areas have been logged, likely resulting in the death of those gliders.
Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio must act to strengthen protection for the Greater Glider and develop vastly improved management prescriptions in areas subject to logging operations.