15 September, 2015
Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, welcomed a statement by Australian forest scientists that the creation of a new national park in Victoria is not the answer to protecting the endangered Leadbeater's Possum.
"A few anti-industry activists are running a campaign attacking Victoria's hardwood timber industry and are calling for the creation of a new national park to protect the Leadbeater's Possum - however this campaign is more about a philosophical opposition to the timber industry than it is about protecting possums," Senator Colbeck said.
"The Institute of Foresters Australia (IFA), which represents more than 1,000 forest scientists and professionals, believes a new national park would do little to protect possums and would have a detrimental impact on families and communities that depend on the forest industry for their livelihoods.
"The IFA say research shows possum numbers have been affected by catastrophic bushfires and the decline in nesting sites through natural loss of dead stags from previous fires, rather than forestry activity. They argue that sustainable forestry operations pose little threat to possum populations and are actually an effective way to monitor and protect their habitat.
"Forestry operations currently protect known possum habitat through protection of trees greater than 100 years old and creation of reserves around possum colonies. The use of nest boxes has proven successful in many cases and industry is also working on creation of hollows in regrowth forests.
"This advice from the national peak body for forestry professionals brings the weight of scientific perspective and practical knowledge into the discussion."
Senator Colbeck said the Coalition went to the last federal election with a policy for no more forest lock-ups and stands by this commitment.
"Australia's forestry industry is sustainably managed and our foresters are excellent conservationists - they recognise the importance of maintaining a sustainable resource into the future combined with management to protect conservation values," he said.
Senator Colbeck said it was important to protect the Leadbeater's Possum and its habitat, and this can happen alongside sustainable forestry operations.
More information is available on the IFA website.