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Logging company responds after ‘botching’ simple endangered species rule 188 times

Australia’s greatest gliders are on the verge of extinction and new regulations were supposed to protect them from loggers. But a new report alleges they’ve been breached 188 times since they were enforced in February.

The guidelines for detecting gliders in forests are quite simple — wait outside the tree hollows they live in just after sunset and see if they come out. When gliders were spotted, the tree would be protected from the chainsaws and a 50 meter exclusion zone would be placed around it.

Asked to respond, Forestry Corporation of NSW said its “intention” had been to follow the rule.

Forestry Corporation of NSW agreed to comply with new regulations to protect endangered greater gliders. Source: WWF-Australia

The guidelines were created after a glider was found dead just meters from forests logged by Forestry Corporation of NSW which is owned by the state government. During a review of its practices, the company admitted it had routinely been searching for the nocturnal marsupials during the day while they were sleeping, and unsurprisingly few were ever documented.

In February, following a public outcry, the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a new rule requiring Forestry Corporation of NSW to search for gliders no more than one hour after sunset. But the company has since reported 77 percent of its searches occurred later.

Of those late night searches, some of which occurred after midnight, not a single glider den was identified. When they were done correctly, signs of the elusive animals were detected.

In a joint letter from World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia, Nature Conservation Council NSW, Wilderness Australia, North East Forest Alliance and South East Forest Rescue, the EPA was asked to issue stop work orders on five active forestry operations.

South East Forest Rescue’s Scott Daine later called on the EPA to “throw the book” at the logging agency.

“Forestry Corp’s behavior is outrageous. Once again we’re doing the EPA’s work by exposing these botched searches as time is running out to save greater gliders,” he said.

The endangered greatest glider seen in a tree hollow at night. Source: David Gallan/WWF-Australia

Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Clancy Barnard warned NSW will lose the last of its greater gliders if the EPA does not step in.

“Yet again Forestry Corporation (of) NSW has shown itself to be a rogue operator by repeatedly floating rules meant to protect threatened and endangered species like the iconic Greater Glider,” he alleged.

After Yahoo approached Forestry Corporation of NSW for comment, it said it was reviewing a letter from the conservation groups and it planned to engage with the EPA.

“It is always our intention to apply the rules and since the Site Specific Biodiversity Condition came into effect in February, we have been working closely with the regulator on implementing these new rules,” he said. “That has included sharing all search and survey data with the EPA over this time.”

The EPA confirmed with Yahoo it is currently investigating the matters raised by conservation groups in relation to greater glider surveys.

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