NSW Watchdog Halts Forest Harvesting Over Glider Protection

Fri 06 Oct 23


The NSW Forestry Corporation has been hit with a second stop work order after it failed to safeguard habitat trees for the endangered southern greater glider.

It comes after a greater glider was found deceased 50 metres from harvesting activity in the Tallaganda State Forest in late August.

After habitat destruction caused by the Black Summer bushfires, the EPA acting executive director of operations, Steve Orr, said the species increasingly make their dens in tree hollows in unburnt forest areas.

“While community reports suggested around 400 southern greater gliders may be living in the Tallaganda State Forest, FCNSW has identified only one den tree,” he told the ABC in August.

That resulted in the NSW-Government-owned enterprise being hit with a 40-day stop work order after the environmental watchdog was concerned that surveys to identify and preserve habitat trees were not correctly conducted.

For its part, Forestry Corporation is “fully complying” with the stop work order, and its teams on site were investigating what had occurred.

“We are fully committed to investigating what has occurred and finding out what the circumstances are around the greater glider found dead in the forest,” a spokesperson said in a statement in August.

“Protecting greater glider habitat is crucial, and Forestry Corporation has spent many months preparing for these operations through intensive pre-harvest surveys to identify and map sensitive habitat and ecological features.”

Wood Central spoke exclusively to an anonymous source connected to the forest area surveyed, who said that the remnants of the perished glider were found in a coup that had not been harvested for six months.

They also revealed that powerful owls connected to the habitat have been seen to prey on the gliders; however, Wood Central cannot verify its accuracy.

The powerful owl (known as the Ninox strenua) is native to south-eastern and eastern Australia. Australia’s largest owl nests in coastal areas and the Great Dividing Range, rarely more than 200 km inland.

According to Birdlife Australia, the owl’s main item of prey is possums of various species, though large bats such as flying foxes are also often caught. They roost by day, perched in the dense shade of a tree, often with the previous night’s prey held in their talons.

“The glider was found in an area close to an area that the WWF is currently surveying,” the source confirmed. 

The area being harvested is one of the few remaining strongholds for the greater glider, and it’s right next to the protected Tallaganda National Park, among the hardest hit areas from the Black Summer fires.

“Native forests, including habitat for the Southern Greater Gliders, are still recovering from the impacts of the fires, but their presence in high numbers suggests that parts of Tallaganda State Forest are providing important refuge,” the EPA said on Friday.

“It is very important that glider den trees are identified and protected before harvest.”

“The EPA has a strong compliance and enforcement program for native forestry, and we will continue with our investigations and take appropriate regulatory action where required.”

The glider was located in a harvested coup close to the WWF surveying. (Supplied: Forest Defence NSW)

The WWF, Wilderness Australia and South East Forest Rescue recently conducted a harvest in a small patch close to the site of the deceased glider and identified 17 in-den trees. 

WWF-Australia said the corporation was required to do pre-harvest habitat surveys, identify and record greater glider den trees and protect each one with a 50-metre exclusion zone.

The groups have provided a report to the EPA and the NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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