Glideways: Restoring Habitat Connections for Australia’s Iconic Gliding Mammals

Mr Gary Howling1, Ms Tandi Spencer-Smith2

1Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, Albion Park, Australia, 2Quoll Communications, Sydney, Australia

Nine species of gliding possums have been described in Australia. They range in size from the world’s smallest gliding mammal – the Feather-tailed Glider, to one of its largest – the Greater Glider. Almost all have suffered population decline through habitat loss and the ongoing fragmentation of native forests and woodlands. With natural distributions that extend along the length of eastern Australia, a whole-of-landscape response is vital if this decline is to be addressed.

Glideways was conceived as part of the Great Eastern Ranges connectivity conservation initiative and is comprised of local projects that conserve gliding possum populations in priority locations across eastern Australia. Actions implemented through Glideways provide co-benefits for other arboreal mammals, bats and small birds with localised dispersal ability that suffer similarly from the effects of habitat fragmentation and loss.

Collaborative cross-tenure efforts delivered by local groups include:

  • landholder and community outreach through information days, citizen science wildlife surveys, and schools activities;
  • habitat protection and infill-planting with nectar-producing feed species;
  • nest box construction, placement and monitoring;
  • management of feral predators and other invasive species; and
  • monitoring of population numbers, health and movement.

Since 2009, Glideways has grown to include projects in landscapes as diverse as the sub-tropical forests of subtropical Queensland to dry woodlands of central Victoria. By replicating efforts at local scale and aggregating them across multiple landscapes, Glideways demonstrates how a network approach to connectivity conservation can improve the future prospects for a species at risk which is widely distributed.


Biography:

Gary is executive director of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) with a long involvement in connectivity conservation and Australasian migration ecology. He has worked as part of the team implementing the GER since its establishment in 2007. Over the last decade Gary has been responsible for providing regional partnerships with specialist connectivity conservation and threatened species recovery advice. He continues to be instrumental in initiating a series of large-scale spatial analyses that highlighted the importance of a network of interconnected habitats across eastern Australia and continues to enjoy sharing the lessons learned along the way with others involved in connectivity conservation in Australia and overseas.

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