New survey techniques being used by Victorian scientists and community members have revealed 214 new Leadbeater’s Possum colonies in the Central Highlands.
The extra survey work has revealed 160 new colonies in state forest that were all immediately protected by timber harvesting exclusion zones, and 54 new records from national parks.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville welcomed the new records from scientists at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI), other DELWP records, Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria, VicForests and members of the community.
Leadbeater’s Possums are small, fast moving and difficult to locate when active at night. Using specialist equipment and new techniques has resulted in more efficient surveying in the tall, dark, wet forests where the cryptic possums live.
Eighty-five per cent of the new possum colonies recorded have been from government agencies. As part of this, ARI has been successfully recording the species by using arborists to set infrared remote cameras high in trees.
The success of these surveys has been bolstered by carefully targeting areas that sophisticated modelling predicted would contain Leadbeater's Possum, or surveying areas adjacent to existing records.
The community has also played a significant role in finding Leadbeater's possums, locating 24 new colonies in State forest.
To support the community in this work, DELWP is making new survey equipment available for loan to people interested in undertaking their own surveys.
Information about loan of the equipment, as well as a regularly updated interactive map that identifies the new colonies and related actions is available on the DELWP website:delwp.vic.gov.au/leadbeaters
Intensive surveys will continue until mid-2017, increasing our understanding of the possum’s distribution, status and habitat requirements.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville
“The Andrews Labor Government is fast-tracking the identification of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies and habitat – and the development of new technologies has made the task far more efficient.”
“Our scientists and the community are delivering critical information, and DELWP is making sure the location of each colony is accurately mapped while the recommended protection measures are put in place.”
“I’d urge the community to keep submitting records of Leadbeater’s Possum sightings to contribute to our knowledge of our iconic faunal emblem and help us improve the conservation of the iconic Leadbeater’s for generations to come.”