Community focuses on national threatened species
NATIONAL Threatened Species Day last week was a time to reflect on the impact humans have on the natural world and an opportunity to celebrate efforts to help.
The Strathbogie Forest Citizen Science Project has just completed an intensive nocturnal survey of a large tract of the Strathbogie Forest, searching for two local threatened species – Powerful Owl (the largest owl in Australia) and Greater Glider (the largest gliding possum in Australia).
Though both species occur in the forest, relatively little is known about them.
With the aid of hand-held spotlights, binoculars, cameras, GPS and clipboard, we walked and surveyed 27+ km of forest tracks in the heart of the Strathbogie State Forest.
Some 25 people from communities around the Strathbogies took part in the surveys.
From this project, it’s clear that the Strathbogie State Forest still supports a healthy population of Greater Gliders (we found more than 200 along the 27 km of transects), though their numbers are patchy. Older forests contain big, old trees and have Greater Glider densities as high as anywhere in Victoria.
Younger forests with few big, old trees are almost devoid of the gliders.
Though Greater Glider populations have crashed in many other forest areas, overall, we can celebrate that the Greater Glider is still doing well in the Strathbogie Forest.
The results for Powerful Owl are less encouraging, with only five detections in total – probably only two or three individual birds.
These large forest owls have very large territories and need extremely big, old trees for nesting – such large trees are now extremely rare in the forest.
In the coming months we’ll be putting more effort into searching for this species.
Even more concerning was the complete lack of any detections of the Yellow-bellied Glider, a gliding possum last recorded in this forest in 1996.
We were hoping the intensive surveys would find at least some of these gliders, but it appears they may now be extinct in the Strathbogies.
It’s a sobering reminder that human actions have long-term consequences.
For more detailed project results go to https://strathbogiesustainableforests.wordpress.com/.
This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Government.