Planned logging coupes in the Wombat State Forest are under threat after the discovery of a population of Greater Gliders large enough to trigger environmental protection laws.
The Victorian Conservation Regulator will consider a submission from the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) after scientists found the Greater Gliders.
In a new report published on Tuesday, citizen scientists supported by the VNPA recorded an unexpected 40 Greater Gliders in the Wombat State Forest.
The state government's action statement on the marsupials released in November 2019 aimed to provide further information and protection for the threatened species - which experienced a 32 per cent population decline in the 2019-2020 bushfires.
It states if "a density of Greater Gliders equal to or greater than five individuals per spotlight kilometre (or equivalent measure) is identified", then retention of "at least 40 per cent of the basal area of eucalypts across each timber harvesting coupe, prioritising live, hollow bearing trees" is required.
VNPA's population survey, undertaken over three nights in January this year, found the Greater Glider population living in a number of VicForests logging coupes.
VNPA executive director Matt Ruchel said the sightings should trigger stricter logging laws in the coupes.
"We were expecting to spot a few Greater Gliders but to see such a dense population, especially this far west and after a third of their habitat was destroyed in the 2019-2020 bushfires in eastern Victoria was really thrilling," he said.
"The Greater Glider action statement has a series of rules about where logging can be restricted if the densities of greater gliders are high enough and the numbers in this report reach that threshold."
The Conservation Regulator will now assess the submission, however it argues the sightings are not in timber harvesting areas.
"The Conservation Regulator received a threatened species report on Friday 17 June 2022 about the presence of Greater Gliders in the Wombat State Forest," a spokesperson said.
"The Conservation Regulator is currently assessing the report to determine any appropriate protection measures.
"Timber harvesting operations have not occurred in the area where Greater Gliders are being reported."
In the VNPA submitted report, Greater Gliders were sighted on the borders of multiple planned coupes.
"The area where these Greater Gliders were found is across seven planned logging coupes and is surrounded by additional salvage logging coupes," Mr Ruchel said.
"At least one of these coupes also contain records of Greater Gliders."
While the VNPA had not reported Greater Glider sightings directly in the salvage logging coupes, Mr Ruchel said the marsupials' proximity to the clean up operation was also concerning.
"These areas are slightly different to the salvage logging ones, although it's just next door where they have been sighted," he said.
In June last year, immediately after the storms, the state government announced the Wombat State Forest would become a National Park.
However, VicForests continued to install timber harvesting and salvage coupes.
"The Andrews government is very keen to promote its conservation track record but a media release announcing a national park doesn't protect anything if it's not legislated," Mr Ruchel said.
For now, the Conservation Regulator will assess the VNPA submission.
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