Leadbeater's Possum - Forest Industries Resource Management Group letters 1976

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'Leadbeater's Possum - Forest Industries Resource Management Group letters 1976 is associated with ' located at these coordinates -37.5579634, 145.881679

In 1976, the habitat requirements and general biology of the possum were still poorly understood in the wider community. Forest Industries Resource Management Group wrote to the Department in 1976 seeking clarification of the conservation needs of the possum.

Record Citation: PROV VPRS 11559/P1/311
Record URL: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&entityId=11559
Agency: VA 551
Agency URL: http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&entityId=551
Date: 14/7/1976
Record Type: Correspondence
Event Type:
Language: en
Copyright URL: http://prov.vic.gov.au/copyright
Related Resource URL:
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User Tags: leadbeater's possum, r.e.moors, forest industries resource management group

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Forest Industires 1.jpg FIRM GROUP

forest industries resource management group

184 whitehorse road, blackburn, 3130. phone: 877 2555 p.o. box 189, blackburn, vic., 3130

REM:REL:A.322 - F.I.R.M.

14th July, 1976.

Dr. K. Dempster,

Officer-in-charge of Wildlife,

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife,

Treasury Buildings,

Treasury Place,

Melbourne ....3002.

Dear Dr. Dempster,

Members of the above organisation have attended several meetings of conservation groups over the past 12 months and have been troubled by statements in relation to certain species of native wildlife made by some of the speakers.

I have twice been in contact with your Department by telephone regarding what seem to be some inconsistencies in these statements and this letter is to request some form of written advice from you regarding the problem.

The main point of concern is the Leadbeater possum and the statements made refer to this animal being an endangered species in Victoria with drastically reduced populations over the past five years.

I understand from your Department that Leadbeater colonies range throughout the forested parts of the State and neither increasing nor decreasing in population, i.e. current estimates show them as being static.

I would appreciate some form of advice regarding the above and if possible any information you may have on their habitat, feeding habits, breeding and general history.

Yours faithfully,

R. E. Moors,

Executive Secretary.

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Forest Industries 2.jpg 459 2900

27th August, 1976.

Mr. R. E. Moore,

Executive Secretary,

Forest Industries Resource Managemant Group,

184 Whitehorse Road.

BLACKBURN. Vic. 3130

Dear Mr Moors,

Leadbeaters Possum in Victoria Forests.

In reply to your letter of 14 July, addressed to Mr. J. K. Dempster of this Division I would like to provide the following advice on the status of Leadbeaters possum.

The discovery and field study of this species has a peculiar history. Between 1867 when it was first discovered and 1909 only five specimens were recorded in [museums?]. For fifty years no further specimens were found despite some intensive searching and the [species?] was generally thought to be extinct. The numbers must have been extremely low.

It was rediscovered in 1961 at Marysville and in the following ten years [numbers?] of [specimens?] have been recorded as far south as Powelltown and east as far as [?] but not beyond these [approximate?] limits.

The species is very distinctive, being the only representative of its [?].

Our knowledge of this species suggests that it is very sensitive to changes in environmental conditions and [depends?] on [?] age [?] of mountain ash including both [vigarous?] young growth and old trees (100 years or more) to provide [dens?] and nests.

Enquiries have been made of the members of our wildlife research staff and none remembers having answered your telephone calls but of the two points which you mention in the fourth paragraph of your letter, one is quite wrong and the other is open to [?] misinterpretation. I would like to be quite precise in making the position clear about the status of the species.

Leadbeaters possum is one of the most geographically restricted species of mammals in the world and occurs only within a rectangle of Victorian ash forests extending about 35 miles x 30 miles.

It has not been possible to arrive at any estimate of the total number of animals within the population but the frequency of sightings by experienced wildlife survey teams suggests that it does not attain the general levels of abundance exhibited by some other species of the possum family.

After having persisted at a very low density in the early part of this century the members appear to have increased in areas where vigorous ash regrowth resulted from the 1939 bushfires but the pattern of recent surveys suggests that the numbers have now reached a maximum and may be limited by the availability of old trees which provide dens.


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Forest Industries 3.jpg Concern for the conservation of the species has been heightened in the last few years because it is entirely confined to ash forests and [predictions?] of the demand for timber and cellulose suggest that this can only be met by the introduction of new and intensive silvicultural techniques in virtually all ash forests.

No significant areas of ash are being set aside for any primary use except the satisfaction of simple market demands and in this climate it is difficult to see how any forests can persist over an indefinite period of time and provide the precise envronmental conditions on which Leadbeaters possum depends.

Yours faithfully,

R. J. Mitchell,


2 - SEP 1976


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