Category Archives: Community

Large numbers of Southern Greater Glider in 2023 burn areas – Strathbogie Forest

Infra-red image of Strathbogie Forest surveys, January-March 2023.

Little was known about the endangered Southern Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) population in this season’s planned burn areas prior to the areas being selected. Only one of the burn areas, Lima East-Mt Albert, had any number of glider records and most of these records came from one small part of this large 500+ ha block. One burn area, Tallangalook-Blacks Ck had not a single Greater Glider record, nor any evidence of surveys (see report for more detail).

Planned burns are carried out with informed knowledge of the impact on plants and animals.This is the lead statement from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) in “Looking after the environment”, yet FFMV clearly had a very limited understanding of the size and distribution of the Greater Glider population in these burn areas.

How can the risk posed by a planned burn be properly considered if information about species in those areas is wanting? In short, FFMV could not assess the risk to these animals, because they had inadequate data and they chose not to conduct additional surveys to improve that understanding. Risk management begins with risk assessment – it’s not rocket science.

So, it was left up to community groups to do the work (again!) – to improve the level of knowledge about the Greater Glider population in the planned burn areas. During January and February 2023 SOSF surveyed 13 transects across four of the planned burn areas. The transects were predominantly in Herb-rich Foothill Forest, but included small areas of Grassy Dry Forest, Riparian Forest Mosaic and Damp Forest.

Before outlining the survey results, here’s a short video of several of the Southern Greater Gliders we saw on the surveys. The video is low-res and most clips were taken 30 to 50 m from the subject (hence the shaky, blurry image). In the video you’ll see the black and the less common grey colour phase (including one glider that is almost totally black, even ventrally); two juveniles/sub-adults (smaller body size and noticeably shorter tails); a grey-phas glider feeding on red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) flowers and buds; most gliders sitting motionless (as usual), or climbing using an almost feline gait.

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Impacts of planned burns on the Southern Greater Glider

This planned burn scorched the canopy, collapsed habitat trees and burnt through gullies

Importance of Strathbogie State Forest for the Greater Glider

The 24,000 ha Strathbogie State Forest in north-east Victoria was declared an Immediate Protection Area (IPA) by the Victorian Government in November 2019 on the basis of its state-wide importance as habitat for the nationally endangered Southern Greater Glider.  This declaration formed part of the recommended conservation actions in the Action Statement prepared for this species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act to help ensure its survival (DELWP 2019). 

2023 Greater Glider surveys

Areas scheduled for burning in 2023 are known to contain critical habitat for Greater Glider (see full report below), however Greater Glider occupancy in some of these areas prior to 2023 was poorly known. We have conducted nocturnal surveys in several of the burn areas.

Results of these surveys re-emphasize the importance of this forest for the long-tern conservation of the Greater Glider and two of the burn units have glider populations at least has high as anywhere else in the Strathbogie Forest. Even the western-most unit, Strathbogie South-Ruoaks Rd, contains a glider population with detection rates far in excess of most other forest areas in Victoria (DCCEEW 2022).

Summary table of Greater Glider detections in the blocks planned for burning 2023. *Numbers from the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas are approximate given the location accuracy of some records in relation to burn unit boundaries

Available evidence shows that the Strathbogie Forest currently contains high densities of Greater Glider and a high population overall. There is considerable evidence that planned burns in the Strathbogie Forest have an overall degrading effect on the ecological health of the forest.

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Planned burns to kill hundreds of Greater Gliders in Strathbogie Forest

OMG! The largest living tree in the survey area (1.9 m dbh), burnt and collapsed by a planned burn!

Save our Strathbogie Forest and Euroa Environment conservation groups have condemned the planned burns scheduled for Strathbogie Forest this autumn for their failure to ensure protection of the nationally endangered Greater Glider possum, a species protected under state and national environment laws. 

“It is ironic that in 2019 we succeeded in having these forests declared a formal protection area by the Andrews Government to help conserve the Greater Glider and other iconic species and the same government Department is now planning to burn nearly 2000 hectares of glider habitat” said Ms Shirley Saywell, spokesperson for the groups.  And what we know from the Victorian conservation department’s research and our own surveys is that these burns will remove hundreds, perhaps thousands of habitat trees from these burn areas, leading to the death of more than 450 individual Greater Gliders. Is this how we are meant to care for our threatened species?” 

Ms Saywell adds “Already this gliding possum has endured an estimated population decline of more than 50% in the last 21 years and 20% since the 2019-20 mega-fires. And now the Andrews Government is sinking the boots into one of the last healthy populations of this animal left in Victoria by burning its homes.  We do not think that this reckless action is how the public expect our government to look after threatened species and urge the Premier and Environment Minister to halt these planned burns now.”

Local ecologist Bertram Lobert, who is also passionate about the forest adds, “The Greater Glider uses hollows in large habitat trees to den –  it’s where they live and spend all their time when they’re not out feeding. When these trees catch alight and collapse from a planned burn, animals in those hollows die. We know from the government’s own research how many of these habitat trees are likely to collapse and in areas where there are large numbers of these gliding possums, it’s possible to estimate how many will be killed by the burn. 400 to 450 gliders killed is the lower end of the estimate for this year’s proposed burns. Depending on how the burns go, it could be higher. And then there’s next year and the year after etc! It’s a brutal way to ‘manage’ a forest!”

Hundreds of these Greater Gliders will be killed by planned burns in the Strathbogie Forest
Remember this? The aftermath of a government planned burn in the Strathbogie Forest

Strathbogie Ranges IPA – SOSF recommendations

Acknowledgment of Country

Save Our Strathbogie Forest acknowledges the Traditional Owners of this land. We respect the rich culture and intrinsic connection Traditional Owners have to the land. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging and recognize the primacy of their obligations, responsibilities, and rights to care for their Country.

This document summarizes the position of Save Our Strathbogie Forest committee in response to the recent consultative meetings with the Eminent Panel for Community Engagement.

Old-growth Mountain Gum with friends, Strathbogie Ranges IPA


  1. SOSF generally agrees with the content and conclusions in VEAC’s ‘Assessment of the values of the Strathbogie Ranges IPA (SR IPA).
  2. Insofar as VEAC’s assessment is concerned, the boundary of the proposed Conservation Park and Forest Park should be moved west, to the north-south running Dry Creek Rd. This would minimize potential conflict between hunting and agriculture (which is a real issue) and protect high conservation value forest in the Goldsworthys Tk area whereDELWP surveys recorded high Greater Glider densities.
  3. We strongly support TO self-determination through cultural landscape principles and shared governance.
  4. We support Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLaWC) becoming legal custodians of this forest, in its pursuit to heal culture and heal country.
  5. We urge the EPCE to identify the mechanisms and a reserve category that would enable TLaWC custodianship and strong biodiversity protection of the Strathbogie Ranges IPA during this term of government. We suggest a pathway to achieve this.
  6. Commercial timber harvesting should be explicitly excluded from the future SR IPA reserve, including the south-west section of forest where VEAC suggests a Forest Park is the most appropriate reserve category.
  7. Establish and resource a reserve ‘advisory committee’ under the auspices of the TLaWC to oversee transition of the reserve from state forest to reserve, including the development of a management plan.
  8. Commit to developing a reserve management plan within 12 months of declaration and allocate adequate resources to maintain and implement the plan.
  9. Preparation of the management plan should include assessment and reduction of the impacts of bush camping and recreational vehicle use. It should also consider how best to promote the growth of low-impact activities such as walking, hiking, cycle touring, day visits etc.
  10. Unregulated, recreational hunting of feral deer and pigs, as is the current situation, should be stopped or at least regulated and drastically reduced, to mitigate the risk of conflict and environmental degradation, but also to make better use of such a potentially valuable food resource.
  11. Bush camping in its current form and with likely increased visitor use requires regulation and should be part of an advisory committee’s remit. Improving camping facilities in areas around the forest should be a high priority.
  12. Highest priority and investment should be in low-impact recreation activities that are inclusive and promote both visitor usage and effective forest management. Visitor experience and safety will be improved by better road signage and visitor information.
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Traditional Owners – custodians of the Strathbogie Forest

Golden Mountain from Mt Tel

It is beyond question that the Strathbogie Forest and the broader ranges have been an existential (material and spiritual) part of indigenous human culture for several tens-of thousands of years. Dispossession and alienation of the landscape inflicted on Traditional Owners, are wounds that may take generations to heal. Giving Traditional Owners a leading role in public land management, policy development and operational decision-making will go a long way toward healing country.

The Strathbogie Forest is at a turning point. In 2019 the Victorian government recognized the significant natural values of the forest, ceased all native forest logging, created an Immediate Protection Area and committed to creating a ‘conservation reserve’ across the entire 24,000 ha IPA. Whilst nature conservation is a priority for the forest, and we must ensure that it remains as such,  empowering Traditional Owners to heal country and pursue self determination is no less important. This forest should become a place where indigenous cultural values and practices underpin a flourishing forest ecosystem, one that becomes and remains part of the National Reserve System to the benefit of all Victorians. 

We call on the Victorian government to recognize the Taungurung people as custodians of the Strathbogie Forest. 

Sign the petition and show the Victorian government that we not only support Traditional Owner custodianship, but also the direction the government is taking on Treaty, cultural landscapes and self-determination.

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Are we there yet?

A reminder of what we’ve been fighting for – the Strathbogie Forest, from Rocky Ned Lookout

Just like the long car trips of our youth, when the answer always seemed to be ‘not far now – just a little further’, that’s often how it’s felt during the last eight years of advocating for better management of our forest. Yes, it is just a little further, but the goal is now squarely in sight.

In May 2019, all logging coupes were removed from the Strathbogie Forest.

In November 2019, the Victorian government committed to permanently protect the 24,000 ha Strathbogie Forest and other IPAs, pending community consultation and formal consideration of the most appropriate land tenure.

Last weekend the Victorian Environment Minister announced the process and timeline for the permanent protection of the Strathbogie Forest and all the IPAs announced in 2019.

In a nutshell:

It will begin with a short VEAC Assessment into which type of reserve e.g. National Park, State Park, Regional Park etc, or combination, is most appropriate for our forest. VEAC will commence the assessment for Strathbogie Forest and Mirboo North shortly, the other IPAs will follow next year. The Minister’s message is that VEAC’s report will be evidence-based and supported by the science. And just to emphasize, it’s not about whether our forest will become a park, rather what type of reserve category and what type of activities will be permitted.

The VEAC report then goes to the Eminent Panel for Community Engagement (EPCE) for additional scrutiny. This is the part of the process where we’ll again need to be active and strongly advocate for our forest. The Minister expects the EPCE to provide her with their final recommendation in mid 2022.

The elephant in the room in all this is the next state election in November 2022. From the press release, it’s almost a given that the process for the East Gippsland and Central Highlands IPAs won’t be finalized before the election. However, it is SOSF’s expectation that the Strathbogie Forest and Mirboo North process, which starts earlier and will be more straightforward, could easily be finalized before the election.

So, even though we’re not quite there yet, for now, we can absolutely celebrate – yoo-hoo!!!

SOSF Media Release

The forest campaign – in pictures

This story was initially produced as a photobook for personal use, to document the journey and enormous community effort that went into gaining protection for the Strathbogie Forest. But now that it’s done (the book), it seems a shame not to share it.

Watch the slideshow above, or click this link (The-Fight-to-Protect-the-Strathbogie-Forest) to view full-screen (use the top right buttons for options).

Below is the image on the back cover of the book. It was taken by J. R. Donald at the very beginning of the 20thC. from a low peak near the Strathbogie township, called Majors Hill. Looking east, Mt Strathbogie, 1044 m asl, is the peak on the horizon, 20 km distant. In the foreground the early Strathbogie township is making its claim, surrounded by a panorama of tall, ring-barked eucalypts – a testament to what was once a forest extending from horizon to horizon. This image reminds me how rapidly we newcomers have changed this landscape, of what has been lost and the importance of protecting what remains of our natural world.

Strathbogie Forest says ‘Thank You’

Strathbogie Forest Protected – At Last!

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Victorian Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, announcing protection of the Strathbogie Forest.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest  – Media release, 11 Nov. 2019

Victorian Government Announces Permanent Protection for the Strathbogie Forest

The Save Our Strathbogie Forest (SOSF) community campaign, with it’s hundreds of members and thousands of supporters, applauds the Andrews Government’s announcement last week to remove all logging and immediately protect the Strathbogie Forest.

Bertram Lobert, spokesperson for SOSF, said “By taking this step the Andrews Government is showing far-sighted leadership with regards to Victoria’s natural environment and climate-change action – recognizing the over-arching value of these forests for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water yields, recreation and ecotourism, over and above their short-term value for low-grade timber products.  This is a great day for our forest, and for many other significant areas of native forest to be protected forever as a part of this package announced by the Government last week.  What we now need to ensure is that these commitments are followed through, and that the Government keeps working to protect other, irreplaceable native forests in Victoria.”

 “SOSF has campaigned tirelessly for increased protections for the Strathbogie Forest since 2013, and we are delighted that this Government has listened to regional Victorians and responded with such far-reaching, positive outcomes for the natural environment and for all Victorians.”

Protection of the Strathbogie Forest will:

  • Expand nature-based tourism and build the tourism economy in surrounding local government areas.
  • Protect one of the healthiest populations of the nationally threatened Greater Glider possum in all Victoria, along with 36 other threatened and iconic native species.
  • Create opportunity for an expanded hardwood plantations sector and remove loss-making native forest logging.
  • Provide opportunity for Traditional Owners to manage country.
  • Protect the highest conservation value forests in the entire Strathbogie Ranges, along with the host of native species that have already disappeared from elsewhere in the ranges.
  • Improve water yields from these forests into Murray-Darling Basin, and
  • Achieve the annual sequestration of significant amounts of carbon-dioxide-equivalents.
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Victorians overwhelmingly want protection for native forests & an end to logging

That’s the outcome of a wide-reaching survey by the Victorian Government into the ‘Future of Our Forests‘.

The survey included:

  • 126 face-to-face events across the state involving over 2000 participants.
  • On-line participation from 2824 people
  • 49 youth participants from 22 youth organisations
  • 14 written submissions
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