The habitat for greater gliders suffered a huge blow in the 2019-20 Black Summer fires.
29% of Greater Glider habitat was destroyed down the east coast, and 40% of this was from high intensity fire, so total destruction of glider and habitat..
What about in the Central Highlands? In the Tallarook Ranges?
A Greater Glider in Magazine Track, Tallarook Forests earlier this year. (Image credit: Norm Stimson)
The greater glider (Petauroides volans) is a large, nocturnal gliding marsupial endemic to Australia. Strictly arboreal, they are vulnerable to habitat loss and disturbance due to their specialised diet of eucalypt leaves and obligate dependence on mature trees with large hollows for shelter. Greater gliders have a widespread distribution primarily associated with eucalypt forests along the Great Dividing Range from northern Queensland to southern Victoria, to the Central Highlands including the Tallarook Ranges.
Gliders resident in the Tallarook Forest, as effectively an "island of forest" cannot relocate with forest disturbance (logging?) and fires. They live in trees, and do not migrate across clear country. As BEAM citizen scientists are finding, our local Greater Gliders are unique, and vulnerable.
The greater glider is edging towards extinction, but there is still no recovery plan for this iconic marsupial. Adding to this, new research suggests there are actually three species of greater glider we could be losing, rather than just one as was previously thought. Significant effort must be invested to create a clear plan for their recovery.
The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC Act) is currently undergoing a once in a decade assessment that considers how well it’s operating, with a recent independent review criticising the EPBC Act for no longer being fit for purpose. Our new research (Conversation article) reinforces this, by showing the act has failed to protect one of Australia’s most iconic and unique animals.
In 2019, the Victorian government updated the protection measures for greater gliders in logged forests. However, these still allow logging of up to 60% of a forested area authorised for harvest, even when greater gliders are present at high densities. And the 40% of forest set aside for gliders where present in a logging coupe, may not be the best of glider habitat. It is logging and development pressure that adds to climate change pressure for the greater Glider.
VicForests have said the company prioritises live, hollow-bearing trees wherever there are five or more greater gliders per spotlight kilometre (a 1 kilometre stretch of forest surveyed with torches). But this level of protection is limited and is unlikely to halt greater glider decline, as the species is highly sensitive to disturbance.
However Vic Forests have accepted 3 Gliders per kilometre in the recent Leadbeaters Possum case heard before the High Court, and in video meetings with forest groups. The Greater Glider Action Statement is currently under review.
These comments include material from "Australia Failed Greater Gliders"., Read the full article here.
BEAM continues to conduct survey research in the Tallarook Forest, and work with other forest action groups in the Central Highlands to expose the Vic Forest conservation limitations in a time of rapid global heating. The Greater Glider conflict is but one facet of finding out more about our forest, and add to the limited scientific knowledge available. Our aim is for the Tallarook State Forest to be changed to become a Regional Park, a public asset out of reach of forestry and development threats, available for all to enjoy.
Peter Lockyer, BEAM president