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NPAACT Home > News Items > DEC back to work restoring habitat for Mountain Pygmy possum

DEC back to work restoring habitat for Mountain Pygmy possum


News Release
March 6, 2007

DEC back to work restoring habitat for Mountain Pygmy possum

The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) will resume efforts to restore an important population of the Mountain Plum Pine at Mt Blue Cow in Kosciuszko National Park that was badly damaged in the bushfires of 2003.


Numbers of the hardy, slow growing pine were severely depleted following the fires creating significant problems for the highly endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum which relies on the pine for protective cover from predators as well as providing a rich source of food from the Pine’s seeds.


DEC scientist, Dr Linda Broome, said today that it was vital that the pine be restored but added that the replanting of the Mountain Plum Pine at Mt Blue Cow has so far proved a tough assignment.


“The pine is really important for the possum which is already under severe pressure for all sorts of other reasons such as climate change and predation from feral cats.


“Our surveys have shown that the possum population at Blue Cow has been in a state of decline since 2000 when the 14 year average population for this area had been 29 females and 14 males. Just prior to the 2003 bushfires this had fallen to eight females and two males. After the fires we could only find two females and one juvenile male. However things have improved slightly since then with eleven females and four males having been recorded last December, an increase which we attribute to some extensive cat trapping we have undertaken since 2002 leading to the removal of 69 feral cats.


“In this precarious situation the Mountain Plum Pine is critical for the possum’s survival and so in the autumn of 2005 with the assistance of Perisher Blue Ski Resort we embarked on a  program to plant some 400 seedlings.


“Unfortunately due to the severe drought conditions only a third of these appear to have survived and since then we have not been able to plant others because it has just been too dry. It would have been a waste of time.


“This week we will have the support of half a dozen people from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), accommodated by Perisher Blue to help continue our drive to restore the pine at Mt Blue Cow. The group will weed the area and replant 800 pine seedlings supported by heavy mulching and the addition of gel crystals to maintain moisture.


“Hopefully the drought will back off long enough for this group of seedlings to establish.


“This will take some time because under the harsh conditions encountered at 1800 metres the [DN1] pine will grow very, very slowly,” Dr Broome said.

 [DN1] The elevation range is actually 1800 - 1984 meters (Zalis bottom station to top of Mt Blue Cow) but 2000 is OK for general purposes


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