Such is the advice VicForests have given DELWP and the Environment Minister, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio. In May this year, DELWP released documents under FOI about Ministerial correspondence relating to Greater Glider conservation. In that correspondence, signed by the Minister 3 Jan. 2017, DELWP advise the Minister that:
“Once harvesting in Parlours coupe is complete … Vicforests has advised they have no plans to harvest further coupes in the Strathbogie ranges within the next 2 years.” (MIN023780 Item 11; page 17 of the FOI)
Logging of Parlour’s coupe finished in January 2017. VicForests’ statement is indeed good news and suggests it acknowledges the importance of the Strathbogie forest for Greater Glider conservation. Importantly, there is now breathing space to allow consideration of how best to manage this important Greater Glider habitat.
The FOI documents make for extremely interesting reading, as they repeatedly mention the Strathbogie Ranges and both the fauna survey and advocacy work undertaken by the SSFG. But there are also very disturbing revelations in the FOI documents.
On the 24th Nov. 2016, during the logging of Parlour’s coupe, the Chair of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Scientific Advisory Committee wrote to the Minister about the Committee’s concerns in relation to the Greater Glider (page 19 of the FOI document); the Chair of the SAC writes:
The Strathbogie Ranges are considered an important area for Greater Glider conservation as the area has not experienced the population declines witnessed elsewhere in the state, potentially due to the absence of timber harvesting or fires in recent decades. Timber harvesting activities by VicForests commenced last week in state forest in the Strathbogie Ranges in tree stands where high Greater Glider numbers have recently been recorded (up to 17 individuals per kilometer).
The Scientific Advisory Committee requests that the Minister consider this issue and support an interim suspension to timber harvesting at locations in the Stratbogie Ranges in order to establish a stronger knowledge base and ensure that logging activities are conducive with protection of this significant species.
Unfortunately, we know that the Minister did not stop the logging in Parlour’s coupe, but at least now, everyone has some breathing space – two years – to develop a plan.