Each spring for thousands of years, tens of millions of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) have migrated more than 1,000 kilometres from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north and the western slopes of New South Wales, and Victoria, to caves in the Australian Alps.
The Climate Council have released a report called This is What Climate Change Looks Like (available here). It has lots of good, albeit depressing, information about how climate change is already impacting on natural environments across the continent, including mountain environments.
Mountain Journal has covered these issues before – increased fire risk to Gondwanic remnant vegetation in Tasmania, threats to iconic species like the Mountain Pygmy Possum and loss of snowpack, but this is a succinct collection of stories about impacts on wild nature in Australia.
The report notes that ‘droughts, ‘dry’ lightning strikes and heatwaves are transforming many Australian forests’ including the alpine ash and snowgum forests that we know and love.
Each spring, Mountain Pygmy-possums wake up from their annual hibernation, hungry for nutritious Bogong Moths to eat so they can raise their young.
Bogong Moths normally migrate from Queensland, NSW and western Victoria towards Mountain Pygmy-possum habitats in the mountains. But for the past two years they haven’t arrived, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered possum.
Scientists believe the “astonishing” drop in Bogong Moth numbers is linked to climate change and recent droughts in areas where the moths breed.
Zoos Victoria notes that as well as other threats, such as drought and pesticide use, ‘bright lights from towns and cities are thought to lure and trap the moths along their migration route’.
With the crash in Bogong Moth numbers, Zoos Victoria has launched a program to help the general community to help the moths – and hence the Mountain Pygmy Possum.
Fires burnt large areas of Tasmania last summer. A recent independent review of fire fighting efforts found there had been some errors in how fires were tackled, but there were also innovative developments (like using sprinkler systems to fire sensitive vegetation).
We know that significant areas of fire sensitive vegetation were impacted by the fires. We also know that climate change will bring ever more serious fire seasons, putting these remnant vegetation communities at greater risk.
A group of people have banded together to make a film about this endangered vegetation. They say the ‘Tasmanian Gondwana film aims to raise awareness of the extraordinary value and beauty of Tasmania’s unique paleo-endemic communities. It comes in the wake of the 2016 and 2019 wildfires in western Tasmania that threatened and burnt large areas of ancient Gondwanan vegetation’.
They have launched a crowd fund campaign to enable the film to be produced.
A new report from Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) has been published which documents logging of more than 600 hectares of Greater Glider habitat in East Gippsland since the species was listed as vulnerable under Victorian legislation in June 2017.
Gliding towards extinction – an investigation into Greater Glider habitat logged since the species was listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act highlights how government inaction and failing environmental laws are having dire consequences for forest dependent threatened species in Victoria.
The Mountain Pygmy–possum, Burramys parvus, is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial.
It is a small, mouse-sized nocturnal marsupial found in dense alpine rock screes and boulder fields, mainly in southern Victoria and around Mount Kosciuszko. The species is currently restricted to three isolated mountain regions: Mount Blue Cow in Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales, Mount Bogong and Mount Higginbotham/ Mt Loch in the Bogong High Plains in Victoria, and Mount Buller in Victoria.
The biggest threats to the remaining mountain pygmy possum populations include:
- habitat destruction and fragmentation,
- climate change,
- predation by feral cats and red foxes, and
- threats to the Bogong moth.
- The construction of ski resorts in the alpine regions in which the mountain pygmy possums live has been one of the greatest factors attributed to population decline.
Now, recent research underscores the fact that climate change may be posing a major threat to the viability of the species by decimating the moths which act as a major food source for the possum.
The Guardian reports that the Bogong Moth which migrate in their billions to alpine areas have crashed, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered mountain pygmy possum.
Logging appears to be imminent in this very important forest in Castella near Toolangi, to the east of Melbourne.
The Castella coupes are a stronghold for a diversity of species including the threatened greater glider and critically endangered barred galaxias – a small native fish.
A blockade has been established to protect these forests.
Please call the environment minister and urge her to intervene to protect this forest.
Call and ask to leave a message: 03 9637 9504.
You can find further information here.
Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) will be running citizen science camps in 2019. The first one will happen in far east Gippsland over the Labour Day weekend in March.
Critically important habitat for Victoria’s faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum is being logged right now in the Blue Range to the east of the Cathedral Ranges in the Central Highlands.
Despite being notified of the critical habitat that is likely being logged in breach of the law, the environment department are making excuses as to why logging should continue and are refusing to investigate.
Please call on the Victorian environment minister to protect threatened species habitat and cease logging in forest along Tom Burns Creek in the Rubicon Region.
You can email the environment minister here – to tell her we want critical Leadbeater’s Possum habitat protected, not logged. And we want to be able to trust that the environment department is making every effort to protect species and not making excuses about why they will not carry out their obligations.
For background information on the logging please check here.
IMAGE: from WOTCH