Leadbeater's Possum - Memorandum, Deleterious effects of road words on Leadbeaters possum

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Leadbeater's Possum - Memorandum, Deleterious effects of road words on Leadbeaters possum is associated with Cumberland Valley and Tommy's Bend, Victoria located at these coordinates -37.547421, 145.8495128

Memorandum from RM Warneke, Senior Research Officer, Fisheries and Wildlife Department, to SJ Cowling, Assistant Director (Wildlife), Fisheries and Wildlife Department regarding upgrading of road for logging in the Central Highlands area.

Record Citation: PROV VPRS 11559 / P1, Unit 311, 93/77/12 CONSERVATION OF LEADBEATERS POSSUM PT 1
Record URL: http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access%20the%20Collection/Browse%20The%20Collection/Series%20Details&entityId=11559
Agency: VA 551 Ministry for Conservation
Agency URL: http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access%20the%20Collection/Browse%20The%20Collection/Agency%20Details&entityId=551
Date: 6 August 1980
Record Type: Memorandum
Event Type:
Language: en
Copyright URL: http://www.prov.vic.gov.au/copyright
Related Resource URL: http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Conservation_of_Leadbeater%27s_Possum
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User Tags: conservation, john h seebeck

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Roadworks 0016.jpg Fisheries and Wildlife Division RMW 80117

memorandum Fisheries and Wildlife Division Registry RECEIVED 1 OCT 1980

To: S.J. Cowling, Assistant Director (Wildlife)

From: R.M. Warneke, Senior Research Officer

Subject: Deleterious effects of roead works on Leadbeaters possum (and other arborial species) in the vicinity of Cambarville.

6 August 1980

On Friday 20 June 1980 I received a telephone call from Ms Jill Orr at the Centre for Environmental Studies, Melbourne University. Ms Orr was seeking information on the distribution of the Leadbeater's possum between Snowy Junction (the Lake Mountain turn-off) and Cambarville. Her field of expertise is landscape architecture and she is a member of a group preparing a report on the environmental aspects of the proposed widening of that stretch of road, which continues eastward to Cumberland Junction (the connection with the Warburton - Woods Point Road).

Roadworks have already proceeded westward from Cumberland Junction to the vicinity of the "Big Culvert", with substantial widening, excavation of cuttings, smoothing of curves and clearing of standing timber from either side for at least 5 m to as much as 30 m (see figures 1 - 7). Slopes exposed by the removal of all vegetation have been graded and replanted with a scattering of seedling eucalypts. Ms Orr informed me that this section has been reconstructed to allow 70km/hr traffic, even though the Warburton - Woods Point road is rated at only 35 km/hr and is not scheduled for up-grading.

During the week of 23-27 June John Seebeck and I examined the entire stretch of road from Cumberland Junction to Snowy Junction and we took a series of photographs (Figures 1-11). We bring the following points to your attention.

1. Sightings (1961-1979) indicate that the distribution of Leadbeater's possum is more or less continuous in the forest bordering the road from the vicinity of Tommy's Bend (see map) to Snowy Junction and thence to the vicinity of Bellel Creek. Thereafter, as the road rises in a SE direction towards the saddle between Mt. Observation and Mt. Arnold it traverses drier NW facing slopes. In this area the forest is less suitable for this species, but excellent habitat occurs on the opposite side of the saddle where the road runs down to the Cumberland Creek. A strong population in known to occur in this vicinity, along the Cumberland Creek and connecting with the colony located to the N. of Cambarville (the site of Andrew Smith's study).

2. Where the old road passes through dense or very large Mountain Ash the crowns of the road-side trees meet overhead and provide a continuum of the arboreal habitat to which Leadbeater's possum is so specially adapted (see Figs 9-11). Thus the road has little if any effect on the movements of this possum, or other arboreal marsupials. However, even slight widening of the road or removal of trees along the verges will break this continuity and disrupt normal ranging by canopy dependent species. Gross disturbances, as has occured to the E. of


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Cambarville, has effectively separated populations on either side of the road, not only by the wide separation of the crown habitat but also by the complete removal of understorey trees and shrubs (see Figs 1-6).

3. The total clearing of timber from generous roadside verges will also eliminate nest trees, potential nest trees and significant areas of sapling and wattle in which Leadbeater's and other possums are known to feed. The former is the more damaging aspect as dense wattle and sparse eucalypt regeneration on these verges can be expected in the next 5 years or so, however the continuity of nesting habitat, in the sense of a relatively uniform distribution of nest trees, will be utterly lost.

4. The Tommy's Bend, Snowy Junction, Cumberland Creek - Cambarville areas are the original "rediscovery" sites of Leadbeater's possum and have been extensively visited by mammal survey groups and professional biologists during the past 18 years. Access to the species has been almost solely by spotlighting in Mountain Ash at the immediate roadside interface. The opportunity for further observational work of this kind (including monitoring of activity/abundance) will be greatly diminished or even lost if trees are removed and broad verges are cleared in the course of further road modification.

5. There is now an enormous contrast in experience when traversing the "old" road to Cumberland Creek through the forest and then the speedway beyond, past the forest (compare Figs 1 and 9). As it is basically a tourist road loss of the positive value of intimacy of contact with the environment and its creatures is to be deplored. The Division should be concerned with any development which further removes people from positive wildlife experiences.


That these views be communicated with the CRB, FCV, MMBW and Upper Yarra Authority, with a view to rationalizing the aims ad effects of this project.

R.M. Warneke.

J.H. Seebeck.

  • Messrs I.S. Cowdell (Ministry) and J. McGuire (FWD) should also be made aware of our views.

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Roadworks 0018.jpg First word of heading is cut off.  ?tion of Figures

Fig. 1. Cumberland Road, west from Cumberland Junction. Note complete separation of canopy on north and south side of the road, clearance of roadside understory, and sparse planting of seedling trees (to left of 'Log truck' sign).

Fig. 2. Cumberland Road, 1 km west of Cumberland Junction. Note dramatic clearing of roadside, sparse planting of seedlings, rock-filled drains, canopy disjunction.

Fig. 3. Cumberland Road, 1.3 km west of Cumberland Junction. Note depth and steepness of cut and batters, complete isolation of forest on right from travellers.

Fig. 4. Cumberland Road, near original site of Cora Lynn picnic ground. Again note depth of cut, disjunction of canopy and isolation of travellers.

Fig. 5. Entrance to Cambarville (on left). Note excessive clearing and complete disjunction of canopy. Retention of isolated regenerating Mountain Ash as in centre of figure is pointless and dangerous.

Fig. 6. Cumberland Road at crossing of Cumberland Creek. Excessive build up of roadway has restricted access to creek, reduced the visual amenity of this site - travellers now speed through rather than slow down - and caused death of Nothofagus at creek edge (not visible in a b & w photograph).

Fig. 7. Same site as figure 6. This emphasizes the excessive and unsypathetic clearing of road verge, and the distance between the forest & the road. Fill has been pushed into road edge, creating a most unnatural surface profile, and leading to death of vegetation by smothering. The surface is raw clay - and at the time of the photograph (June 1980) was a veritable quagmire. Heaven help any driver who slid off the road into that !

Fig. 8. Cumberland Road at end of current roadwork, 2.6 km west of Cumberland Junction. The transition from wide verged highspeed road to meandering track through the forest is self evident.

Fig. 9. Cumberland Road near Observation Road. Note interlocking canopy, vegetated verge and visual appeal of road.

Fig. 10. Cumberland Road, 5 km west of Cumberland Junction. Here the canopy of Nothofagus and Atherosperma almost covers the road, and the eucalypt canopy is continuous.

Fig. 11. From Mt Arnold saddle, looking west. Even though the forest is drier and less suitable for Gymnobelideus the canopy continuity provides ease of movement for all the other arboreal species present.

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