The Australian Forest Products Association has welcomed the draft National Recovery Plan for the Leadbeater’s Possum, released by Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews this afternoon.
Chief Executive Officer Mr Ross Hampton said, “Whilst Mr Andrews identifies that there are still serious challenges ahead, this draft plan gives cause for much greater optimism for the survival and eventual prospering of this iconic species than was thought some months ago. The report notes that human-made nesting sites with confirmed use by possums is increasing, allowing the Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group to estimate that there could actually be almost 11,000 individuals – a wonderful increase from the couple of thousand which was reported before the new work and surveys were undertaken.”
“The report notes that forestry industries have been highly responsive to the need of the Possum, recording that in many areas new management practices have already been implemented to ensure the industry has as small an effect as possible.”
“The report also notes that the greatest threat to the slow recovery which appears to be underway is another bushfire. Key to ensuring the survival of the species the report says is to work hard on successfully spreading colonies to other areas (and ensuring they are larger than 200 to remain healthy). In short, since more fires are inevitable, the Possum needs us to help it disperse and create homes so far apart that not all colonies would be impacted by a new conflagration.”
“There is an unacceptably high risk of extinction for the species in this region, especially through extensive bushfire, and hence there is a need to try to spread this risk through attempts to establish subpopulations of the species in the most suitable habitat outside this region” – p. 6
The forest industries remain committed to working hard with all stakeholders and the Threatened Species Commissioner to see the Possum recover and ultimately to prosper.