Conservation of Leadbeater's Possum
Leadbeater's Possum is a small possum having a very restricted ranged confined to parts of the Mountain Ash forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria. It is Victoria's only endemic mammal and one of the State's faunal emblems.
The possum was originally described by Professor Frederick McCoy from speciments collected near the Bass River in 1867. Small numbers of possums continued to be found in the early part of the twentieth century, but searches of the Ash forests by Charles Brazenor and David Fleay in the 1930's failed to find the possum and it was believed to be extinct.Then, in April 1961, H. E. Wilkinson from the Museum of Victoria found the possum again at two locations in the Mountain Ash forests near Marysville.
The rediscovery of the possum generated a considerable amount of interest both here and overseas. Files held by Public Record Office Victoria record some of this excitement and there are links to many of these records below. These files also trace the attempts to understand and protect this endangered possum up until the early 1980's. By clicking some of the links below, you can read about some of these early conservation efforts and some of the people involved in the possum's conservation.
Records on the Public Records Office Wiki about the Leadbeater's Possum
Like most historical records, there are gaps in the records held by Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).
Although the Forest Commission of Victoria did have a units studying forest ecology in the 1970's such as the FEAR group, no files from these groups appear to be help in the Public Record Office Victoria collection. This means that the story told about conservation of Leadbeater's Possum comes mostly from Government agencies responsible for conservation and the environment such as the Fisheries and Wildlife Division.
There are also gaps in the files from the conservation agencies. For example, the Fisheries and Wildlife file 93/77/12 "Conservation of Leadbeater's Possum" has no records from Novemebr 1963 until September 1967 apart from a single request in 1965 for information about the possum. Documents such as John Seebeck's long review of Leadbeater's possum in 1976 reference a number of memoranda and reports that do not appear to be on any of the files available.
There are signs that files may have been reorganised at times ( pages have been removed and placed in another file) and some documents refer to memoranda and reports that do not appear to be in the Public Record Office Victoria collection.
Files held by the Public Records Office contain well over 1000 pages devoted to Leadbeater's possum and only a selection of records are available from ths page.
Chronological list of records
To provide some context, some of the main political and administrative changes are shown in italics.
Bolte Liberal Government in power
Bolte Government establishes the Land Conservation Council
Sir Henry Bolte resigns as Premier in August and is replaced by the progressive Liberal Rupert Hamer.
The ANU publishes Richard and Val Routley's book "Fight for the Forests".
Melbourne Area Land Conservation Council study
Finalisation of recommendations from Land Conservation Council
ALP wins the State election
Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands created by amalgamating the Forests Commission, National Parks Service, Fisheries and Wildlife, Crown Lands & Survey, Soil Conservation Authority and part of the Ministry for Conservation