The bushfires destroyed close to 30 per cent of Greater Glider habitat. The species, unique to eastern Australia, was once abundant along the east coast, but populations have diminished by 80 per cent in the last 20 years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, meaning they are now vulnerable to extinction.
As a part of the Gliding to Recovery project, delivered through the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program, Greening Australia will supply and strategically install 300 Glider nest boxes across East Gippsland’s Hartland State Forest.
The nest boxes will provide much needed shelter for the species in unburnt pockets of land, after bushfire damage diminished suitable hollows and caused drastic habitat fragmentation.
The project, due for completion in April 2022, will also see the testing of 300 scat samples to develop Greater Glider genetic markers, allowing environmentalists to better inform conservation interventions and bushfire recovery in the future.
Greening Australia and Far East Victoria Landcare Network (FEVLN) have also partnered for the project to deliver two community engagement events, enabling local communities to learn about Greater Gliders and the importance of habitat protection, while also empowering the community to engage with positive bushfire recovery activities.
Greening Australia Senior Program Officer Drew Liepa says “In the past 20 years we have seen an 80 per cent decline in Greater Glider populations and the impact of the 2019/2020 bushfires has been catastrophic for this already vulnerable species. Without intervention, it is likely Greater Glider populations will continue to decline.”
“Greening Australia is proud to be working with Landcare Victoria and Far East Victoria Landcare Network on such an important project to support the recovery of Greater Gliders native to the East Gippsland region.”
“Leveraging our industry knowledge and practical experience, we’re able to support this iconic but vulnerable species by installing 300 glider nest boxes in East Gippsland’s Hartland State Forest, and test hundreds of scat samples. The nest boxes substitute for the lack of tree hollows Greater Gliders typically shelter in, while the samples will aid in developing a baseline report of Greater Glider genetic markers which will allow for conservationists to understand, map, plan, monitor and protect populations in future.”
Landcare Victoria CEO Andrew Maclean says “Landcare Victoria congratulates Greening Australia for its involvement with Landcare and for its leadership in community engagement. It is exciting to see the efforts of local community come together to recover wildlife after the bushfires in the East Gippsland region”.
Greater Glider populations typically are extremely vulnerable to wildfire due to their poor dispersal abilities and their tendency to occupy very small, isolated home ranges. As populations decline and become more isolated, they are more prone to the effects of small population size and potentially genetic decline.
Just five years after being listed as vulnerable, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee found the Greater Glider is eligible to be up-listed to endangered based on dramatic population declines and significant habitat destruction.
Learn more about Greening Australia’s environmental restoration programs: www.greeningaustralia.org.au/our-programs.