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Into the Future

As at 2024, the future looks bright for Leadbeater’s Possum

Various community and environmental groups, including The Wilderness Society, My Environment and Great Forest National Park continue to champion for Victoria’s unique possum and liaise with both government and industry to create a safe haven.

We hope that some time soon an expanded reserve, the Great Forest National Park, will be established that will provide Leadbeater’s possum with a more viable future.

The future for Leadbeater’s Possum, Victoria’s precious and iconic marsupial, shines with promise as diverse community and environmental organizations unite in a concerted effort to safeguard its existence. Among the vanguard are stalwart champions like The Wilderness Society, My Environment, and the visionary Great Forest National Park initiative. Together, they tirelessly advocate for the conservation of Leadbeater’s Possum, engaging in constructive dialogues with governmental bodies and industry stakeholders alike, forging pathways toward a sustainable coexistence between humanity and nature.

In this collective endeavor, the formation of the Great Forest National Park emerges as a beacon of hope. Envisioned as an expansive sanctuary, this proposed park holds the potential to serve as a bastion of protection for Leadbeater’s Possum and its habitat. By expanding existing reserves and establishing new protected areas, the park aims to provide the possum with a secure and thriving environment to flourish, ensuring its continued presence in Victoria’s verdant forests for generations to come.

The creation of the Great Forest National Park is not merely an aspiration; it represents a tangible step towards fulfilling our duty as stewards of the natural world. It embodies a commitment to preserving biodiversity, fostering ecological resilience, and nurturing the intricate web of life that sustains us all. As we rally behind this noble cause, we honor the resilience and beauty of Leadbeater’s Possum, recognizing its intrinsic value as a living symbol of our shared responsibility to safeguard Earth’s precious creatures.

Let us stand together in reverence and celebration of Leadbeater’s Possum, a testament to the enduring spirit of conservation and the boundless potential of collective action. May our efforts today pave the way for a brighter tomorrow, where Leadbeater’s Possum roams freely amidst the towering trees of the Great Forest National Park, a living testament to our commitment to protect and preserve the wonders of the natural world.

  • 1867
    First specimens were collected in the scrub on the banks of the Bass River in Gippsland, Victoria.
  • 1909
    LbP last collected from Sunnyside, in the high country near Omeo. The specimen was mis-identified and its significance was not realised until the 1930s.
  • 3rd April1961
    Eric Wilkinson rediscovered LbP at Cambarville and Tommy’s Bend, near Marysville in the Central Highlands
  • 1967
    Des Hackett secretly begins keeping Leadbeater’s Possums in his backyard in Blackburn
  • 1971
    LbP declared the Victorian State Faunal Emblem, alongside the Helmeted Honeyeater
  • 1972
    LbP first bred in captivity by Des Hackett
  • 2006
    Death of the last Leadbeater’s Possums in captivity in Australia
  • February 2009
    Black Saturday bushfires destroy around 45% of reserved LbP habitat and population numbers in the wild are halved.
  • 2010
    Kasia died peacefully in her sleep at just over 10 years of age at Metro Zoo, Toronto, Canada. At the time she was the last captive Leadbeater’s Possum anywhere in the world.
  • 2011
    DSE and Parks Victoria ‘rescue’ the last 3 LbP’s from Lake Mountain (a population of around 300 having been destroyed in the 2009 fires) after a feral cat is filmed hunting near their nest box and a number of animals had ‘disappeared’. They are taken to Healesville Sanctuary. One later dies from unknown causes in its enclosure.
  • 2012
    Healesville Sanctuary
    begins a new Captive Breeding Program for lowland Leadbeater’s Possums from Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve (NCR). The program’s “founders”, wild possums, were brought into captivity to establish a breeding population. The breeding program is based only on the genetically distinct Yellingbo population of Leadbeater’s Possums. (June 2022, no breeding has been reported)
  • July 2013
    Two Lake Mountain LbP’s are put on display in the Nocturnal House at Healesville Sanctuary after DEPI refuses to issue a permit to return them to their wild habitat.
  • August 2013
    Professor David Lindenmayer calls on the Victorian Government to expand the current LbP Reserve System to include all LbP remaining habitat in the Central Highlands (including areas currently available for clearfell logging) in a new Great Forest National Park.
  • April 2015
    EPBC (Federal) Conservation Status uplisted to Critically Endangered.
  • July 2015
    Action Plan states that revised Recovery Plan will be in place by mid-2016
  • November 2017
    The first hearing in the Possums’ Case in the Federal Court.
  • June 2019
    The full hearing of the Possums’ Case over three weeks in the Federal Court, Melbourne
  • June 2019
    Federal Conservation Status confirmed as Critically Endangered following an unsuccessful application to downlist by an industry lobby group. FLbP lobbies for release of revised Recovery Plan
  • May 2020
    Judgment in the Possums’ Case in favour of Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum on all counts.
  • June 2020
    Bunnings announces that it will no longer retail VicForests’ timber as a result of the court decision.
  • August 2020
    Final Orders in the Possums’ Case including declarations of unlawful logging and injunctions preventing further logging in 66 coupes.
  • September 2020
    VicForests lodges appeal on 31 grounds.
  • October 2020
    Translocation trial of Lowland LbP to Wallaby Creek in Kinglake National Park. After early indications of success, trial abandoned due to predation by a cat and remaining animals returned to Yellingbo.
  • April 2021
    VicForests appeal heard in Sydney.
  • May 2021
    VicForests appeal allowed on one ground. Other findings of fact were not disturbed and the award of costs against VicForests was upheld.
  • June 2021
    FLbP filed application for Special Leave to Appeal to the High Court.
  • September 2021
    Again, FLbP lobbies minister for release of revised Recovery Plan
  • November 2021
    A second translocation trial established at a site north-east of Mansfield.
  • December 2021
    Application for Special Leave to Appeal to the High Court refused.
  • June 2022
    FLbP lobbies new Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, for release of revised Recovery Plan

Leadbeater’s Possum features on a postage stamp circa 1981.
Image: c/- Australia Post