News - 06 March 2024

Critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum finally gets a Recovery Plan, but the actions that follow will be the real test

Leadbeater's possum. Image: Justin Cally

Yesterday the Victorian and Commonwealth governments finally released a Recovery Plan for the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

The Leadbeater’s possum, Victoria’s faunal emblem, is one of the most endangered mammal species on Earth. Yet it has been neglected by successive state and Commonwealth governments that have quibbled over the drafting of an effective Recovery Plan for the species since at least the late 1990s.

The long-awaited Recovery Plan, which calls for an urgent rethink of all planning and policy settings that threaten the possum and its habitat, has been welcomed by the Wilderness Society, which has advocated for an improved Recovery Plan for the possum for many years.

After decades of overlogging and other disturbance led to the species being listed as Critically Endangered in April 2015, the Recovery Plan sets out concrete steps for governments to take that would help to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.

Community groups including Friends of Leadbeater’s possum and Wildlife of the Central Highlands, amongst others, have resolutely advocated and researched to protect this species and its forest habitat.

The resourcing, roll out, and effectiveness of the Leadbeater’s Possum Recovery Plan is a key test for the Albanese Government's ‘zero extinctions’ commitment and further evidence of the urgent need for new protections for forests across Victoria, including the establishment of the Great Forest National Park.

Matt Landolfo, Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Victoria, said,

“After decades of successive state and Commonwealth environment ministers dodging their obligations to establish an effective Leadbeater’s Recovery Plan, the Wilderness Society acknowledges this welcome announcement from federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and her state counterpart, Minister Dimopoulos.

“This Recovery Plan is yet another piece of evidence that the Allan Government now has in hand to deliver new protected areas to the reserve system, and gives cause to rethink damaging policies around fire management and salvage logging, which are contributing to ecosystem decline”

“The plan adds to the huge weight of evidence of urgent need for new protections across the state, including the Great Forest National Park.

“We are looking forward to seeing this adequately funded in the state and Commonwealth budgets. Now that it has a Recovery Plan, what this species urgently needs next is practical action, including expansions to the dedicated reserve system, and the urgent review and reform of land management strategies and practice, particularly fire management plans, controlled burns and salvage logging.

“We note that the Plan specifically recommends that stakeholders and communities are involved in its implementation. It’s vital that the community can have trust in the government’s delivery of the Plan, and the best way to achieve that is by empowering the community to help to ensure the plan succeeds.”