9 October 2023

Activists demand urgent reforms after almost 90 endangered animals found in potential logging site

| Albert McKnight
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greater glider in forest

This greater glider was filmed in one of the den trees identified by conservationists. Photo: WWF-Australia.

Activists have called for urgent reforms after 89 endangered greater gliders and 20 habitat trees were found in areas of a forest that had been earmarked for logging.

A stop work order was extended in parts of the Tallaganda State Forest by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) this month after initially being brought in following the discovery of a dead endangered glider.

After the announcement, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF), Wilderness Australia and South East Forest Rescue claimed they had surveyed three hectares of the state forest in about three hours and found 17 greater glider den trees.

“Finding 17 den trees in a short space of time exposes a massive failure by Forestry Corp,” WWF-Australia’s threatened species and climate adaptation ecologist Dr Kita Ashman said.

“Our surveys highlight that we can have zero confidence in Forestry Corp to identify and protect crucial threatened species habitat.

“It shows we need stronger nature laws and urgent reforms to remove exemptions such as Regional Forestry Agreements that allow native forest logging to continue unchecked.”

greater glider

WWF-Australia partnered with The University of Sydney to deploy GPS collars on greater gliders. Photo: WWF-Australia.

The conservation groups claim the survey results indicate there would have been about 10,000 greater glider den trees before logging began.

“The Tallaganda population is extremely important but it could be wiped out if habitat destruction continues,” Wilderness Australia’s operations manager Andrew Wong said.

“We ask the Minns Government to swiftly bring about the permanent protection of all of Tallaganda State Forest, along with all other critical habitat required to prevent the extinction of the iconic greater glider.”

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A Forestry Corporation of NSW spokesperson said since the initial stop work order was issued, the corporation had worked with the EPA to address the concerns raised around searching for greater glider den trees.

“In planning the operation, Forestry Corporation searched for hollow-bearing trees and marked 5400 for protection,” the spokesperson said.

“Forest ecology teams have conducted searches for greater gliders and den trees using thermal drones and this data has been shared with the EPA.

“Forestry Corporation will continue working with the EPA to address their concerns around den trees as well as support the local harvesting contractors, who have been stood down from work during this time.”

The logging in parts of the state forest, which sits beside Tallaganda National Park and is about 60 km southeast of Canberra, was originally ordered to stop in August after an inspection of several active logging compartments found a dead southern greater glider around 50 metres from forestry harvest operations.

The greater glider is endangered in NSW and is the largest gliding possum in eastern Australia.

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On Friday (6 October), the EPA said it had extended the stop work order until 13 November to cease harvesting by Forestry Corporation in parts of the state forest.

Greater gliders shelter in multiple tree cavities, known as ”den trees”.

woman in logging site

Dr Kita Ashman in the Tallaganda State Forest. Photo: WWF-Australia.

Since the first order in August, the EPA recorded 89 greater gliders and 20 den trees in areas subject to the order.

The EPA said those areas had been earmarked for harvesting or planned harvesting operations.

“Given the high number of southern greater gliders identified by the EPA at this point in the investigation, we have extended the stop work order for an additional 40 days,” the EPA’s acting executive director of operations Steve Orr said.

“Native forests, including habitat for the southern greater gliders, are still recovering from the impacts of the fires but their presence in high numbers suggests that parts of Tallaganda State Forest are providing important refuge.”

The EPA also said it was still not known how the glider found in August had died and that its investigation at the site was ongoing.

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Philip in Narooma4:48 pm 13 Oct 23

The logging coupe is 250hectares within Tallaganda State Forest, which is 5,700 hectares.

Tallaganda SF is surrounded by 160,000hec of National Parks, and logging is ordered to stop by the EPA based on ‘findings’ by WWF.

Seriously, the amount of hyperbole surrounding logging in South East NSW is incredible. Looking at the requirements imposed by Forests NSW within the logging area they are tough and comprehensive.

At some point Australia will have to realise that this mad rush to ban every resource use because of the ‘environment’ will have a detrimental effect on our future. Any pragmatic look at the NSW Forestry, in SE NSW, shows it is carbon neutral and sustainable – it has been operating for 160 years!!

Already timber for construction has increased in price by 180% and since 2019 Australia is importing most of its hardwood from unregulated logging in Indonesia and Borneo. NSW already imports 90% of its seafood, mostly because of the actions of the Greens.

We NEVER hear of the gliders, koalas etc that are found in National Parks, where they have been completely protected for 50+ years … why not?

patricia gardiner2:18 pm 11 Oct 23

Thumbs up to all those standing up/speaking up for our native wildlife while their habitat is being destroyed by others.

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