Possums in forest peril
THE WA Forest Alliance is urging the State Government to use new powers to protect southern forests which are home to a critically endangered possum.
The alliance unsuccessfully urged a stay on logging in Channybearup, between Manjimup and Pemberton, last year because it was a known habitat of the western ringtail possum.
The possum, which is endemic to the South West, is now considered at greater risk and has this year been added to the list of critically endangered WA species.
“It is clear that unless the habitat of these wonderful creatures is urgently protected from logging, clearing and inappropriate fire regimes, we will lose them,” alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling said.
She urged incoming environment Minister Stephen Dawson to use new powers under the Biodiversity Conservation Act passed in 2016 to protect prime western ringtail habitat.
Prime habitat includes Warrup forest between Bridgetown and Manjimup, which is listed on the Department of Parks and Wildlife current logging schedule.
A department spokeswoman said while the Act would allow greater protection of threatened species and habitat, the new powers had not yet been proclaimed.
“Regulations and ministerial guidelines are now being prepared to allow these parts of the act to be proclaimed,” she said. Conservation measures were already in place to protect the western ringtail, she said, including a recovery plan prepared in 2014.
The Forest Management Plan included a “hierarchy” of measures to protect biological diversity and the approval process for controlled burns was rigorous, the spokeswoman said, adding more intensive baiting of feral pests was being undertaken after the forest was logged and an “insurance” population of possums had been established at the Perup sanctuary.
The western ringtail possum, which is endemic to the South West, has been added to the list of critically endangered species.