Findings of habitat review sought
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Findings of habitat review sought

With just days remaining in April, the State Government needs to immediately release the findings of its review into the Leadbeater possum and timber harvesting, as it promised in February to do by the end of this month.

State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the report should have been completed long ago.

“It was one of the adopted recommendations of the Leadbeater Possum Advisory Group to have a review undertaken once 200 colonies were located, in order to assess the effectiveness of controls while maintaining a sustainable timber industry,” he said.

“The reality is we aren’t maintaining a strong timber industry, we are seeing it wiped out by this dithering government.

“While the location of 200 colonies was meant to trigger this review, it was slow being implemented and has dragged on for too long. Today we have over 600 confirmed sightings, three times more than was required to initiate the study.

“Daniel Andrews needs to release this report, which will clearly show an enormously increased prevalence of Leadbeater possum. This is despite the vast majority of the searching having been done in areas reserved for the timber industry, when the timber industry only has access to barely more than a quarter of the possum’s overall range.

“The release of this report will assist in providing the information needed to determine the future of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in Heyfield, which has been offered significantly reduced timber supply and therefore has hundreds of jobs at risk.

“The reason this is important is because VicForests has clearly stated the major causes of their reduced offer to ASH is due to the amount of area that has been put into Leadbeater possum reserve since 2014 and the future forecasts of this continuing at the same rate.

“In Parliament earlier this year the Minister said the review would be completed by April, so with just three days left, it needs to be released to the public.

“Daniel Andrews’ Labor Government is failing our timber industry, the Heyfield workers and their families,” Mr Bull said.

Thursday, April 27, 2017