By Ed Hill ‒ Goongerah Environment Centre
On July 29, the ABC revealed shocking footage showing areas of native forest deliberately logged to see how threatened native animals ‒ Greater Gliders ‒ cope with the onslaught of chainsaws and bulldozers.1
This logging 'experiment' is cruel and outdated ‒ but incredibly, it is being conducted by the Victorian government's own agency, VicForests. Even worse, it's happening in the heart of East Gippsland's Emerald Link, in globally rare forests.
The evidence is clear, and the science is in ‒ Greater Gliders do not survive the violence of logging.2 Professor David Lindenmayer is Australia's foremost expert on Greater Gliders as well as on the forests they live in. He told the ABC the experiment was unethical: "I see that as the terrestrial equivalent of so-called 'scientific whaling', where the Japanese have eaten the results. The evidence is quite clear. We don't need to go back and continue to look at these kinds of things when we already see quite clearly what the impacts are on these species. The days where we are logging areas where we have threatened animals — they should be long gone. I can't believe we're doing this in 2018."3
Local ecologist Rena Gaborov told the ABC: "They're logging threatened species' habitat and trying to look like they're doing something good for the species at the same time, but really it's an oxymoron."3
VicForests said the experiment was designed "in collaboration" with Victoria's Department of Environment and its biodiversity research institute, the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI). However, ARI's head of wildlife ecology Lindy Lumsden told the ABC they were "not involved in designing it".3 She said ARI "attended one meeting to discuss it and provide feedback". Moreover, Dr Lumsden said they saw problems with the approach of the experiment: "We raised questions on their sampling design, underlying assumptions and ability to be able to draw valid conclusions from their proposed study. We suggested ways the design could be improved to make it more scientifically rigorous."
Citizen scientists recorded a population of 11 Greater Gliders in these forests. This should have triggered immediate legal protection of their forest habitat. The state government conducted its own surveys and found 10 Greater Gliders. But instead of protecting the forest, it allowed the loggers to continue with their sinister logging experiment.
And this is happening even though government scientists have warned the environment minister that gliders die from logging and called for strong protections.
These precious animals, and the forest they call home, need secure and lasting protection. Listed on both Victorian and national endangered species lists, Greater Gliders need a sanctuary ‒ and the government can provide it by stopping the experiment and creating the Emerald Link.
East Gippsland's Emerald Link is the only place on mainland Australia where intact forests are continuous from the alps to the coast. These forests are a haven for rare animals—many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The government needs to create the Emerald Link ‒ a proposal to protect East Gippsland's forests and give our native wildlife the habitat sanctuary they need.
Please sign the petition to show your support for the Emerald Link
Published in Chain Reaction #133, September 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/cr133