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‘Protection zones’ for endangered possums already logged, environment groups say


Photographs and footage gathered by the alliance on the ground, plus recent satellite imagery, indicate protection areas in Swifts Creek, Nunniong and the Colquhoun forest in East Gippsland, as well as areas in Mansfield and Baw Baw in the Central Highlands, have been logged – some as recently as six months ago.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek declared the greater glider was endangered in July, citing habitat destruction from logging, land clearing for agriculture, intensifying bushfires and climate change.

Once a common species, the glider was first listed as vulnerable in 2016. Less than six years later, it is now listed as endangered. They rely on the hollows of older trees for nesting and shelter.

Logging in Victoria is governed by Regional Forest Agreements, a legal pact with the federal government that exempts state logging corporations from federal environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Independent “teal” federal MPs, including Kooyong MP Monique Ryan and Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps, have been demanding the federal government revoke this carve-out from national protections for endangered species.

This year, the issue of native forest logging has never been more prominent. Victoria’s Supreme Court recently found state-owned logging agency VicForests had failed to follow the law and properly survey for greater gliders and yellow-bellied gliders.

Independent MP Monique Ryan and Labor MP Michelle Ananda-Rajah during a tour of a logging coupe at Toolangi, near Melbourne.

Independent MP Monique Ryan and Labor MP Michelle Ananda-Rajah during a tour of a logging coupe at Toolangi, near Melbourne.Credit:Australian Conservation Foundation

There have also been media reports about the agency logging protected forests and the carbon emissions that logging produces in Victoria.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Cam Walker has encouraged the Victorian government to bring forward the closure date of native logging from 2030 to the end of 2023.

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“There’s a real sentiment that the time for native forest logging is over, that’s obvious,” he said. “It comes unprompted from more and more people, and the court cases have really contributed.”

The state government was contacted for comment, but did not respond before the deadline.

A spokesperson for VicForests said it had implemented the interim protections announced by the government in April 2021 and the permanent protections from September 2022.

VicForests notifies the department of all coupes where logging is occurring; coupe maps and plans are published on the VicForests website; and timber release plans, which outline which areas will be logged, are provided to DELWP, the agency said.

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