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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Gliders 'in greater peril' from logging changes

Search rules for endangered greater gliders have been changed after the Forestry Corporation raised concerns about the wood supply in NSW.

The NSW environmental watchdog has changed search rules for endangered gliders after the logging industry complained its business would suffer.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) says the Forestry Corporation is worried current search conditions for the world's largest gliding marsupial will have "a material impact on the state's wood supply".

It's the second time the EPA has changed search rules in recent months after conservationists complained the corporation had repeatedly failed to properly search for and protect the hollow den trees gliders need to survive.

The WWF says the EPA is prioritising commercial logging over the survival of a threatened species.

The complaints followed admissions by the government-owned business that it had been looking for the nocturnal species during the day.

In February, the EPA imposed new rules requiring night-time spotlight searches that must start within an hour of sunset, when gliders typically leave their hollows to feed.

If gliders aren't spotted entering or leaving hollow trees, the Forestry Corporation does not consider them to be den trees that must be protected.

But the rules changed again on Monday.

The EPA moved to "clarify" that only the first search on any given night must be carried out shortly after sunset.

It said the February changes had failed to convey a "shared understanding" between the EPA and Forestry Corporation that only the first part of a search and survey must start within an hour of sunset.

WWF threatened species ecologist Kita Ashman accused the EPA of prioritising commercial logging interests over the survival of a threatened species.

"These changes mean any surveys for den trees, after the first spotlight transect, are useless," she says.

The result could be the "catastrophic" long-term loss of hollow-bearing den trees, which can take 100 years or more to form.

The EPA said the new rules require search and survey work to begin within 30 minutes of sunset "to increase the likelihood of observing gliders leaving their dens".

"Without these amendments and clarity to search and survey requirements, FCNSW has advised the current conditions would have a material impact on the state's wood supply."

The watchdog also announced new protections for any tree in which a glider is spotted.

They must not be cut down and will be further protected by a 25-metre logging exclusion zone.

But those protections only apply to FCNSW's own search and survey work, and not similar efforts carried out by conservation groups.

Existing protections for any hollow-bearing den trees that are identified stand. They must not be felled, with 50-metre logging exclusion zone around each one.


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