Media release

Environment Minister can help save Leadbeater’s Possum

April 15, 2014

  • Advisory group could not consider stopping logging of Leadbeater’s Possum habitat.
  • Interim Conservation Order needed to halt logging in remaining Leadbeater’s habitat.
  • Leadbeater’s Possum needs large Great Forest National Park to survive.

Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith has the opportunity to help save the state’s endangered animal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, by using his powers to grant an Interim Conservation Order for its remaining habitat under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

The Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) has today requested the Interim Conservation Order on behalf of the Wilderness Society.

“The recommendations announced yesterday by the Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group are woefully inadequate. An urgent intervention is needed to save the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction,” said Wilderness Society Victoria Campaign Manager Amelia Young.

“Declaring an Interim Conservation Order will immediately protect important Leadbeater’s Possum habitat from destructive logging.”

Felicity Millner, Principal Lawyer of the Environment Defenders Office (Victoria), said: “This would be a first. Interim Conservation Orders have been requested before, but never granted by the Minister. If ever there was a time to use a special measure like this, the emergency facing the Leadbeater’s Possum means that now is the time.”

 The Leadbeater’s Possum needs old-growth Mountain Ash forest – more than 150 years old – to survive, as it needs the old tree hollows to live in.

“Allowing ongoing logging in and around Leadbeater’s habitat prevents trees from becoming old and forming hollows. Removing logging from Leadbeater’s Possum habitat by declaring an Interim Conservation Order is the sensible solution,” said Ms Young.  

The vast majority of people in two key Victorian marginal seats oppose the continued use of taxpayer money to subsidise native forest logging, according to a recent poll by Lonergan Research.

“Half of the respondents supported government subsidies of industries, yet 72 per cent of voters polled in Monbulk and Bentleigh oppose the use of their taxes to subsidise VicForests’ logging of native forests containing the Leadbeater’s Possum.

“Every year, logging loses money. Declaring an Interim Conservation Order will save the Leadbeater’s Possum, and save Victorians millions of dollars spent in government subsidies given to the industry that’s sending the state’s animal emblem to extinction.

“Establishing an extensive Great Forest National Park will give the Leadbeater’s Possum a fighting chance of surviving and create fantastic tourism opportunities,” concluded Ms Young.

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