BREAKING: Community group files legal action with the Federal Court after endangered glider found killed by logging machinery

Warburton Environment

A case has been lodged in the Federal Court against the Victorian Government after a greater glider was found dead sparking outrage this month over logging in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Warburton Environment Inc. is seeking urgent court injunctions to stop logging being conducted by Victorian state government department Forest Fire Management (FFMV), after citizen scientists found an endangered greater glider crushed at the base of a logged tree.

The group alleges the Victorian Government ignored warnings it was breaching federal environment laws by logging large hollow-bearing trees home to endangered Southern greater gliders and critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possums. Citizen science groups had reported the presence of a number of greater gliders, living in trees which were then cut down by FFMV.

Court documents filed by the community group allege the logging of hollow-bearing trees by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is a federal offence under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). One tree cut down on Friday 24 May measures almost 9.5 metres in circumference, meaning it should have been protected according to state prescriptions to preserve large trees with a diameter over 2.5 metres.

The community group is seeking court orders prohibiting the logging of habitat trees in all Victorian state forests and national parks. The Federal Court action increases pressure on Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to launch compliance and enforcement action against the logging, which is happening during the breeding season for greater gliders.

Minister Plibersek has also been warned the logging is inconsistent with the Leadbeater’s Possum recovery plan she released with much fanfare on 5 March 2024, which states that “hollow-bearing trees are declining in the Central Highlands and will not be naturally replaced for decades. The existing hollow bearing trees are therefore a critical resource that require full protection”. (p22)

In a recent letter to Minister Plibersek, Warburton Environment warned that former VicForests contractors cannot be trusted to protect critical habitat for Leadbeater’s Possums, Gang-gang Cockatoos, Swift Parrots, and greater gliders, given their long track record of breaches of state environment laws.

Warburton Environment President, Nic Fox said: “It’s outrageous that community groups are forced to take legal action to stop the Victorian Government killing endangered wildlife. Community groups shouldn’t have to continually fight their way through the legal system to make the government accountable to its own laws and policies.”

“Logging clearly isn’t finished in Victoria, it’s just business as usual under a different name, and even Victoria’s most iconic National Parks aren’t safe from the government’s logging industry.”

Wildlife of the Central Highlands, Hayley Forster said: “We’ve had enough. Victoria’s own Environment Department is knowingly killing threatened wildlife. They are logging our iconic wildlife into extinction under the guise of fire management, all whilst marking their own homework to greenlight dodgy loophole logging operations.”

Victorian Forest Alliance President, Dr Sue Lewis said: “The Victorian Forest Alliance totally supports our member group Warburton Environment taking, yet again, legal action to protect native forests from illegal logging. Experience shows the Victorian Government cannot be trusted to regulate FFMV and their rogue practices.”

Warburton Environment’s solicitor, Jamie King, said: “The Commonwealth, in keeping with its international treaty obligations, has enacted laws prohibiting unauthorised actions likely to have a significant impact on threatened species. The Victorian government is engaging in criminal conduct by its unauthorised destruction of important habitat for the endangered Southern greater glider and critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.”

/Public Release.