All the boxes have been ticked for Victoria’s Environment Minister to issue an Interim Conservation Order to protect the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, according to a legal letter sent to the Minister yesterday.
Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), acting for Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, has written to Minister Lily D’Ambrosio detailing the legal grounds and formally asking her to invoke a special provision in Victoria’s main biodiversity protection law to save the state’s faunal emblem.
There are believed to be fewer than 2,500 breeding Leadbeater’s Possums left in the wild.
“Leadbeater’s Possum is at serious risk of extinction and the continued survival of the species is directly linked to the preservation of its specialised, limited habitat,” said EJA lawyer Danya Jacobs.
“Section 26 of Victoria’s Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act grants the Minister power to issue an Interim Conservation Order to conserve the critical habitat of a threatened species.
“Existing conservation efforts are failing to safeguard this species and the conditions have been met for the Minister to make an Interim Conservation Order to protect Leadbeater’s Possum.
“Scientists are quite clear about the size and location of the forest needed to protect this species from extinction in the wild.
“In our view, this area constitutes critical habitat under law; it can and should be protected with an Interim Conservation Order.
“Forests that are critical to the survival of the Leadbeater’s Possum continue to be logged, setting this special species on a seemingly inevitable slide to extinction.
“Until a long-term solution is found we urge the Minister to immediately issue an Interim Conservation Order prohibiting any activity that damages Leadbeater’s Possum critical habitat, including logging.”
In February this year community groups discovered clear-felling within critical Leadbeater’s Possum habitat, then found the species in an area that was about to be bulldozed. Logging at the site only stopped after legal demands from EJA.