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Barnaby Joyce’s Leadbeater’s Possum extermination plan won’t save Victoria’s Heyfield timber mill


  • Logging Leadbeater’s Possum habitat won’t provide wood sawmill owners are  demanding
  • Having failed with Johnny Depp’s dogs, Pistol and Boo, Joyce takes aim at tiny possum
  • Logging Leadbeater’s Possum habitat will drive Victoria’s animal emblem to extinction

Federal National Party leader Barnaby Joyce’s plan to log the habitat of Victoria’s critically endangered animal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, won’t save the Heyfield timber mill and will drive the possum to extinction, The Wilderness Society said today.

“Barnaby Joyce wants to kill cute animals again but, instead of Johnny Depp’s dogs Pistol and Boo which may have threatened biosecurity, he wants to exterminate a species: the tiny, much-loved Leadbeater’s Possum,” said Wilderness Society National Forest Campaigner Warrick Jordan.

“Joyce’s suggestion that the Federal Government should intervene in a last-minute bid to prevent the closure of the Heyfield sawmill in Victoria is short-sighted and based on a very poor grasp of the realities on the ground.

“Joyce has clearly been sold a pup on this issue by his state National Party colleagues. Logging the Leadbeater’s Possum to extinction would do little to keep the industry going.”

Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager Amelia Young said: “There is simply not enough wood left in the critically endangered Mountain Ash forests. In 2009, large stands of timber were burnt out in the Black Saturday bushfires. State government logging agency VicForests’ Resource Outlook from 2013 clearly shows sawlog supply would significantly decrease from 2017-18.

“VicForests knew of the looming reduction in wood supply. Successive Victorian Governments knew. And the big timber mills, such as the Heyfield sawmill, knew.

“Joyce’s suggestion to log an endangered animal to extinction would not give the mill’s owners the wood they are demanding, and means Victorians would have to wave goodbye to their animal emblem.

“Joyce is trying to pressure his colleague, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, to strip the Leadbeater’s Possum of its critically endangered status, which was conferred by leading experts and former Liberal Environment Minister Greg Hunt almost two years ago.

“Workers at the Heyfield sawmill have been misled for too long. Mismanagement, and promises of wood that simply isn’t there, has led to this unfortunate situation.

“Barnaby’s plan to open protected forests to logging will prevent 760 new, full-time regional jobs being developed in the Great Forest National Park’s sustainable tourism plan.”

“Rather than offering false hope, governments must provide support to workers facing employment change, and invest in sustainable jobs for the long-term.”

Further information

For further comment, contact:

  • Wilderness Society Forest Campaign Manager Warrick Jordan on 0451 633 197
  • Wilderness Society Victoria Campaign Manager Amelia Young on 0404 074 577

For more information, contact:

  • Wilderness Society Media Adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168
comms team