Extinction risk reduced
BUFFER ZONES to protect Victoria’s endangered faunal emblem have helped reduce the risk of extinction but will cost the state’s timber industry nearly $15 million in lost revenue.
A report by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) found established zones for the Leadbeater’s possum were effective in slowing extinction, however, it also found the zones would result in lost revenue for sawlog harvesting of $14.77 million by 2030.
“While the Leadbeater’s possum remains at a high risk of extinction until 2050-70, that risk has been reduced within the Leadbeater’s possum reserve by 34%, thus demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of this action in contributing to [its] conservation outcomes,” the report found.
Currently the sighting of a possum creates a 200-metre buffer zone for all timber harvesting and the issue remains environmentally and politically sensitive in Victoria’s central highlands.
Victorian Association of Forest Industries chief executive Tim Johnston welcomed the review but said it did not offer immediate solutions to shore up future timber supply.
“Industry has worked hard to balance the values of the forests in which it operates, from the environmental value to the economic value,” Mr Johnson said in a statement.
“Any species conservation actions must balance the needs of the species and achieve a vibrant forest, fibre and wood products’ sector that is grounded in sustainable forest management.
“Our forests need to be actively managed for all values … and to achieve this, the regulatory system the industry operates under must be more flexible and give consideration to the adaptability of industry to any changes.”