EPA blasts NSW Forestry’s incompetent greater glider population survey

The greater glider is classified as endangered after bushfires wiped out a third of its habitat.

The greater glider is classified as endangered after bushfires wiped out a third of its habitat. Photo: WWF

The NSW Forestry Corporation failed to properly search a forest for endangered greater gliders before logging their den trees, a watchdog has alleged.

The Environment Protection Authority has released successive stop-work orders issued to the state-owned corporation over its conduct in the Tallaganda State Forest, east of Canberra.

They were enforced after a dead glider was found in the forest in late August, about 50 metres from where trees were being felled.

The watchdog says it has reasonable cause to suspect the corporation did not conduct detailed and thorough searches to identify all greater gliders and den trees in logging compartments.

It also suspects that den trees and the habitat around them were harvested in the compartments, resulting in damage to the habitat of the southern greater glider.

Concerns about possible breaches of both the Forestry Act and the Biodiversity Conservation Act have been expressed, with investigations ongoing.

On Friday, the Forestry Corporation said it is continuing to work with the EPA to ensure conditions set out in native forestry regulations are in place, and will continue to comply with any stop work order.

The corporation recently revealed it conducted pre-harvest surveys for glider den trees in Tallaganda during the day, when the nocturnal animals would have been asleep.

5400 hollow-bearing trees

Those efforts identified just one glider den tree.

The E​PA later did its own work and easily identified 20 in areas earmarked for harvesting, saying at the time: “we are not confident that habitat surveys have been adequately conducted to ensure all den trees are identified”.

The Forestry Corporation has since told AAP it had identified and marked for protection 5400 hollow-bearing trees in Tallaganda, even if no gliders were spotted using them.

During NSW budget estimates hearings last week, EPA chief executive Tony Chappel said he had serious concerns about compliance in Tallaganda.

“… they go to the rigour of surveys and other matters,” he said,

He also revealed the watchdog is revising protocols to ensure the forestry industry conducts searches in a competent way.

Conservation groups are paying close attention to what’s happening in Tallaganda. It’s one of the greater glider’s last remaining strongholds, with the species losing much of its habitat in the Black Summer fires.


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