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May 18, 2024

A powerful new approach: saving the Greater Glider one den tree at a time

Over the last three weeks, we have been working our way across the steep hills and thick forests of Tallaganda. Our mission has been to find and record the homes - called ‘den trees’ - of the endangered Southern Greater Glider.

Our field work is being conducted with a sense of urgency, as Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) have said they will begin logging a large colony of greater gliders in Tallaganda as early as next week. We are in a race to save this population before it is destroyed - and we have come up with a powerful new approach to do it.

A rare ‘grey morph’ greater glider sits in the entrance to its den hollow high in a eucalypt, photographed using our drone during spotlighting surveys. This den tree is in the middle of the area scheduled for immediate logging in Tallaganda.

A powerful new approach

Under NSW logging rules, a greater glider den tree must be protected with a 50m logging exclusion zone, effectively creating a permanent informal conservation reserve of 0.78 hectares in size.  

While FCNSW are required to search for den trees before logging, they continue to conduct inadequate surveys, particularly under recently changed protocols which require less than 10% of the area to be assessed. The map below shows how few den trees were found by FCNSW within the Tallaganda compartment during pre-logging surveys:

But den trees can also be found and recorded by the community.

So our strategy is simple. We are attempting to save this colony of greater gliders one den tree at a time. If we can find enough den trees, then we can blanket the logging compartment with permanent exclusion zones and make logging high-value glider habitat impossible. We are happy to report that this plan is already working.

In eight nights of spotlighting over a three week period, the map below shows how many records Wilderness Australia, WWF and South East Forest Rescue have found:

Our records will protect more than 10% of the proposed logging area, called ‘compartment 2428.’ And we are only just getting started.

Wilderness Australia’s Project Manager, Ella Magee-Carr, spotlighting for greater gliders in the rain in Tallaganda this week. With hand-held spotlights we can see the eyeshine of greater gliders, two small lights that pinpoint this elusive animal’s presence even high in the canopies of tall trees.

Using this new approach, appropriately coined as ‘guerrilla ecology’ by WWF’s threatened species ecologist Dr Kita Ashman, we intend to conduct blanket searches for den trees in as many state forest-based greater glider colonies as we can. 

Compartment 2428 of Tallaganda State Forest is the first survey in what may become a long process of saving this species from extinction, compartment by compartment, one den tree after another.

A sea of Centuries-old giant tree ferns, dotted overhead with greater glider den trees, in the area about to be logged.

 

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Australian Foundation for Wilderness Limited
ACN 001 112 143
ABN 84 001 112 143
Advocating as 'Wilderness Australia'
Formerly The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Registered Office 8/154 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000
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