report from the roundtable - 12 Jun
At this week's council meeting I moved a motion (item 9.2) to invite the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to Yarra Ranges to visit the habitat of threatened species being impacted by logging.
The motion was carried, councillors voting for the motion were Crs Samantha Dunn, Len Cox, Jeanette McRae, Noel Cliff and Tim Heenan. Whilst Crs Graham Warren, Terry Avery, Chris Templer and Richard Higgins voted against the motion.
In speaking to the motion I talked about the recent court case of MyEnvironment v VicForests and the statement made by Justice Osborn where he recognised the the deficit in the reserve system given the 13 year drought and extreme bushfire events to hit the Central Highlands.
To quote Justice Osborn "MyEnvironment has demonstrated a strong case for the overall review of the adequacy of the reserve system intended to protect Leadbeater's Possum habitat within the Central Highlands Forest Management Area. The (2009) bushfires have materially changed the circumstances in which the existing system was planned and implemented and there is, on evidence, an urgent need to review it."
The Shire of Yarra Ranges prides itself on being home to three of Victoria's 4 state emblems, we proudly talk about our municipality in terms of it's importance to the cultural and environmental heritage of the state. (The Leadbeater's Possum is Victoria's state emblem)
It is of great concern to hear Professor David Lindenmayer, world expert on Leadbeater's Possum, talk about a population in collapse. In fact only recently the last three remaining Leadbeater's Possums were removed from Lake Mountain and taken to Healesville Sanctuary in an attempt to save the species. So what we have already at Lake Mountain is a local extinction.
The Minister, Tony Burke, has powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), should the Minister perceive a serious threat, a critical habitat may be registered for any nationally listed threatened species or ecological community and in my view there is certainly a serious threat to Leadbeater's Possum habitat.
According to Prof Lindenmayer there will be no old trees left in the landscape by 2065, this is disastrous for the many hollow dependent fauna in our environment. According to research undertaken there's only 2000 hectares of forest left in the Central Highlands that hasn't been disturbed by logging or fire. That's 1.2% of intact forest left, the situation is critical.
I think it is important that the Minister understand what is happening in the Central Highlands so he can determine if there's a role for him and the EPBC Act.
In terms of the second part of my motion, that council write to the Federal Minister to detail our concerns about loss of Leadbeater's Possum habitat, there is ample recent information to inform our submission.
Most recently was our submission to the VicForests Timber Release Plan where council articulated its concerns around the protection of threatened species habitat and coupes adjacent to Special Protection Zones and the Leadbeater's Possum Permanent Reserve System. We also detailed concerns about the retention and long term protection of habitat elements for native fauna species and highlighted issues around fragmentation and habitat connectivity.
We are a council who has long been concerned about our endangered species. The science is in, we have species in decline, whilst the threats to habitat still exist. The Minister needs to understand first hand what is happening across the landscape in Yarra Ranges and the Central Highlands.
The motion received a majority vote of council. I certainly hope the Minister takes us up on our offer of a visit.
Labels: cr samantha dunn, EPBC Act, leadbeaters possum, logging, shire of yarra ranges, Tony Burke