Safe place to call home for Leadbeater's Possum
The State Government will set aside 75,000 hectares to protect three of Victoria's most endangered wildlife species, including Leadbeater's Possum, the state's faunal emblem.
The population of the tiny nocturnal Leadbeater's Possum has been reduced by half (to about 2000) since it was listed as critically endangered in 1996.
Earthwatch volunteer teams have helped Principal Investigator Professor David Lindenmayer and colleagues, collect data on these threatened mammals for nearly 10 years, helping to promote sustainable logging practices.
Damian Michael, Senior Research Officer, PhD Candidate (ANU) and Earthwatch field research assistant, says it's a great step forward but hopes people don’t become too complacent on the broader conservation issues surrounding Leadbeater’s Possums.
"The new reserve will be invaluable in providing the species with a forest system that will potentially mature and recruit much needed hollows," says Michael.
The Leadbeater’s Possum, found in the Mountain Ash forests and Central Highlands of Victoria, will now be better protected through a 30,000 hectare permanent reservation of their habitat.
This habitat consists of a mosaic of mature, hollow-bearing trees and patches of regrowth forest, which currently supply food for the threatened possum and are suitable for future nesting hollows.
Michael further explains that much of their prime habitat is still within the wood production areas and therefore, research is still needed.
"As part of our long-term research involving Earthwatch, we will continue to work closely with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), VicForests and local community groups, in order to promote variable retention harvesting in the central highlands," Michael says.
The 75,000 hectare reserve will also include 40,000 hectares in East Gippsland and the state's north-east to protect the long-footed potoroo and 5,500 hectares to protect the most significant habitat of the Baw Baw frog.