Pos­sums in for­est peril

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - News - Karen Hunt

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.

Pic­ture: WAFA

The west­ern ring­tail pos­sum, which is en­demic to the South West, has been added to the list of crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species.

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