The endangered Large Brown Tree-frog (Litoria littlejohnii) has been detected in an area earmarked for logging. The frog was through to be extinct until April this year when GECO volunteer Rena Garborov rediscovered it in Mt. Jersey forests near Goongerah. GECO has submitted the record of this frog to the Department of Environment and are hopeful Environment Minister Lisa Neville MP will protect the area and prevent VicForests from pushing head with planned logging operations. Since the frogs rediscovery in April, VicForests has added 127 new logging coupes to their plans in East Gippsland, 9 of which surround the locations where the frog was rediscovered.
We would like to think the rediscovery of an endangered species that was thought to have gone extinct would prompt a survey effort and some conservation measures. However, in the case of the large brown tree frog the opposite has occurred.
In April the species was recorded for the first time in twenty years, by GECO volunteer Rena Gaborov. Rena detected the species in two different locations within the Mt Jersey /Yalmy forests. The two location sites are approximately 9kms apart and lie within the same water catchment. Rena returned to the sites with a team of scientists to collect DNA samples. The results of DNA testing confirmed the two frogs are the same genetic population.
Instead of committing resources to thoroughly survey the catchment where the species has been found, the government has allowed VicForests to schedule 9 new logging coupes within the same catchment. These new logging coupes were approved in August, just a few months after the rediscovery of the endangered tree frog.
Image: Recent logging near one of the sites where the endangered frog was rediscovered.
Many of the new coupes fall within the Mt. Jersey 'green zone', a small area of just a few thousand hectares that didn't burn in the devastating 2014 Goongerah - Deddick fires that burnt about 170,000 hectares of forest. The green zone on Mt Jersey is extremely high conservation value. Species that have been affected by the fires, such as owls, gliders, possums and frogs are clinging to survival within the un-burnt green zone because the burnt areas are no longer good quality habitat. The 'green zones' need to be conserved so species that are still living within them can recolonise back into the burnt areas, once regeneration permits. At the moment the green zones are acting as fauna banks, where species can continue to live until regeneration of the surrounding forest permits them to disperse back into the areas that were burnt. The green zones are also important to keep a diversity of age classes and forests with varying fire history, within the landscape.
You can take action to protect the large brown tree frog by writing or emailing the government and asking them to protect the forest of Mt Jersey and Yamly in far East Gippsland where the frog has been rediscovered. A typed or hand written letter sent by post will have much more impact than an email. See address and email details below.
Premier of Victoria The Hon Daniel Andrews MP
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne, VIC 3002
Minister for the Environment, The Hon Lisa Neville MP
Level 17, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002
Minister for Agriculture, The Hon Jaala Pulford MP
Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002