Wombat Forestcare raises concerns over planned burns

Wombat Forestcare has raised concerns about the Victorian government’s back-flip on its promise not to ignite planned burns during the threatened greater glider’s breeding season. 

Greater gliders are listed as vulnerable by both the state and federal governments due to their rapidly decreasing populations. 

The species are the largest gliding possum in Australia and resemble a fluffy Persian cat with their long furry tails. Greater gliders are an arboreal nocturnal marsupial, subsist on a diet of eucalyptus leaves and are dependent on large tree hollows for denning and breeding. 

THREATENED: The exquisite greater glider, pictured in the Wombat State Forest, is at risk due to a series of upcoming planned burns. Photo: Gayle Osborne

THREATENED: The exquisite greater glider, pictured in the Wombat State Forest, is at risk due to a series of upcoming planned burns. Photo: Gayle Osborne

Gayle Osborne, a spokesperson for Wombat Forestcare, said the group had requested the Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio intervene and halt planned burns in the Wombat State Forest during the species’ breeding season. 

The Minister has not responded to the request. 

The planned burns, to take place around the Blakeville Cricket Ground Track, includes an area encompassing four breeding trees, where nine greater gliders were recently recorded. 

Letters from the Environment Minister’s office and the chief fire officer last year both state the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning would implement mitigation measures to protect greater gliders, including to refrain from burning during the glider’s breeding season.

“Both state and federal government scientists have advised that planned burns are a threat to greater gliders but the government plans to go ahead and recklessly burn the species breeding sites at the worst possible time,” Ms Osborne said. 

“DELWP could exclude an area of approximately 100ha from the 500ha Blakeville burn to protect the gullies with greater gliders but they have not put effective protections in place and are refusing to publish their burn plan.

“Wombat Forestcare is greatly concerned the number of planned burns in greater glider habitat could significantly affect their population in the Wombat Forest.”