Viable population of greater gliders in Roses Creek and Scotchman state forests

Greater Glider, Upper Bellinger Valley. Photo Peter Knock
Greater Glider, Upper Bellinger Valley. Photo Peter Knock

Activists who are determined to stop Forestry Corporation logging the Kalang headwaters have found another viable population of a threatened species in Roses Creek and Scotchman state forests.

Surveys led by professional ecologist Mark Graham and Kalang resident Jonas Bellchambers have documented 17 sightings of greater gliders in compartments 125-128, which are scheduled for logging soon.

Earlier, the citizen scientists snapped long-nosed potoroo and found evidence of a strong breeding population of koalas, neither of which appeared in Forestry's draft harvesting plans.

The greater glider is a large arboreal possum that feeds on eucalyptus leaves, buds and flowers and uses hollows in old trees to raise its young.

It is listed as nationally vulnerable due to habitat loss and population decline.

"Because so many forests have been cleared and heavily logged, this spectacular native species has disappeared from much of its historic range and the decline in population has accelerated," Mark Graham said.

Jonas Bellchambers from the Friends of Kalang Headwaters said the greater gliders had been found in a substantial area of connected, high-quality habitat.

"The greater glider population that occupies the entire Kalang headwaters is nationally significant because it is viable, with lots of food sources as well as abundant hollows for breeding and shelter," Jonas said.

Mark Graham said that Commonwealth and NSW government conservation agencies recognise that the greatest threat to the greater glider is industrial logging.

"In forested areas where industrial logging has occurred greater gliders have become extinct," he said.

Forestry Corporation has denied that its proposed logging is a threat to native fauna of the Kalang headwaters.

"In undertaking our planning for these areas of forest we have identified and mapped 600 hectares that will be set aside as biodiversity and landscape protections, which leaves just under 20 per cent of the total area available for selective timber harvesting in which some trees will be harvested now, while others are left to grow on to be harvested later, or kept permanently for their habitat value," a Forestry spokesperson said.

However, Mark Graham argued that while 20 percent may sound like a small proportion, "the entirety of these forests are needed to ensure the ongoing health of the Kalang River and the maintenance of the nationally significant viable populations of koalas, long-nosed potoroos, greater gliders and many other threatened species in these forests".

"Industrial logging of the Kalang headwaters will cause direct harm to the greater glider population," Mark said. "It will create major barriers to their movement and drive this magnificent, ridiculously cute forest-dweller closer to extinction."