The production of timber from native forests is presently one of the most controversial land management issues in Australia. Part of this controversy results from the potential impacts of forestry practices on forest-dependent fauna, particularly those that are rare and endangered, such as Leadbeater’s Possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri McCoy, in the forests of central Victoria, south-eastern Australia. A significant proportion of the highly limited distribution of this species overlaps with some of the most valuable wood production forests in Australia within which extensive clearfelling operations are employed to produce timber and pulpwood. These operations can destroy the habitat of G. leadbeateri. The Victoria government agency that is responsible for forest and wildlife management has devised a forest zoning system as part of the management strategies to conserve G. leadbeateri within timber production areas. This is designed to partition the forest into three types of areas: (1) where the conservation of G. leadbeateri is a priority, (2) where wood production is a priority, and, (3) where both land uses are a joint priority. The classification of areas of forest where the conservation of G. leadbeateri is the primary land use is based on an understanding of the habitat requirements of the species. The results of recent field studies, where statistical models of the habitat requirements of G. leadbeateri have been developed and their performance subsequently tested using a new dataset, highlights the need for a new basis to guide the classification of areas for the conservation of the species within wood production forests. We describe a method for devising a forest management zoning system that is based on a statistical model of the habitat requirements of G. leadbeateri and which will better integrate wood production and the conservation of the species. This procedure accounts for the uncertainty in the statistical model and, in turn, reduces the risk that areas where G. leadbeateri occurs are logged, whilst ensuring that other areas are not unnecessarily excluded from timber harvesting.
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- A Habitat-Based Microscale Forest Classification System for Zoning Wood Production Areas to Conserve a Rare Species Threatened by Logging Operations in South-Eastern Australia
D. B. Lindenmayer
R. B. Cunningham
- Springer Netherlands
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