Victorian Government conundrum: save possums or jobs?
Daniel Andrews' Victorian Government is faced with a difficult decision: save Victoria's fauna emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum, or save logging jobs.
The Victorian highlands are home to most of the state's 1500–3000 Leadbeater's Possums. These possums live in an area designated for timber production and paper pulp which supplies some 2100 jobs.
A confidential report supplied Labor's Forest Industry Taskforce on threatened species says the best way to protect these endangered possums is to stop harvesting the forest.
"In simple terms, to minimise further decline and prevent 'ecosystem collapse' we need to stop logging and hope that there is not a large fire within the next 50 years," the report says.
The possum population has dramatically declined over the last decade because of logging, bushfires and natural loss of older trees.
"With such a diversity of wildlife, it's appalling that we are logging these forests, and primarily for short-life paper products," said My Environment Inc spokeswoman Sarah Rees.
"The Andrews government has delivered nothing for these forests, despite their policy commitment in the 2014 state election. The Coalition delivered more. It is a dark day when Victorians will be buying Victorian Ash products with the blood of Koalas in the paper and wood products."
There have been suggestions to convert the area into a National Park, which would create 750 jobs.
How would you go about solving this conundrum? What's more important: endangered possums or jobs?