Com­mu­nity fo­cuses on na­tional threat­ened species

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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