22 Dec 2023


Logging has been temporarily suspended in Tallaganda State Forest after an Endangered greater glider was found dead just 50 metres from the logging site. We only have a small window to secure permanent protection for this area - one of the last places of refuge for greater gliders.

It’s estimated that at least 700 threatened animal species across Australia depend on trees for food and shelter, including greater gliders, koalas, possums and flying foxes. But we also have the highest rate of deforestation in the developed world. Deforestation is the deliberate removal of trees and forests from land that has never been cleared before. It has catastrophic consequences, destroying the life-sustaining biodiversity of our native forests and threatening our well-being, communities, climate, wildlife and the planet. 

A significant cause of deforestation is logging, which is when trees are cut down for wood. But the impact of this destruction doesn’t stop there. A large proportion of trees are discarded on the forest floor, increasing the risk of bushfires. Cutting down trees also tears open forest canopies, exposing more sunlight and wind to the forest floor, which dries out fallen debris and makes them even more flammable.

The process of logging has heartbreaking consequences for the planet, as it causes carbon emissions and fuels the global climate crisis. 

What are logged trees used for?

It’s commonly thought that our forests are cut down for housing materials or other high-quality wood products. But the sad reality is that most logged trees are destroyed to make cheap, low-value products like wood pallets, tomato stakes and vast amounts of wood chips, many of which are shipped overseas and made into paper and cardboard.

Forestry logging within state forest outside of Coffs Harbour, NSW.
© WWF-Aus / Adam Krowitz

Many timber companies can do this because they’re PERC-certified, meaning they face fewer logging restrictions and can operate with less integrity than other certifications. That’s why WWF-Australia advocates for companies to be FSC-certified, which holds these companies to much stricter standards, including wood sourced from plantations.

What’s happening in Tallaganda State Forest?

This senseless destruction has been happening recently in Tallaganda State Forest, New South Wales, where logging by the Forestry Corporation of NSW has destroyed vast areas of this critical forest, only for it to be sent overseas.

Over half the logged trees in Tallaganda have been turned into firewood and wood chips, to be made into low-value, disposable products like paper, paper products and box liners.

But what makes these logging activities for low-value products even more devastating is their detrimental impact on resident endangered greater gliders.

Greater gliders rely on tree hollows to make their homes, which can take up to 150 years to form. The gliders may be small, but their property demands are mighty, maintaining up to 20 tree hollow dens. Sadly, activities like logging, landclearing, severe bushfires and climate change have all made it harder for them to find the hollow-bearing trees they depend on.

Logging in Tallaganda State Forest
Logging in Tallaganda State Forest © Andrew Kaineder / WWF-Australia

Tallaganda State Forest and Tallaganda National Park play a crucial role in the long-term survival of greater gliders, as this forest is one of their last remaining strongholds in the state. After the catastrophic bushfires of 2019-20, WWF-Australia used generous supporter donations to fund critical recovery work in the area to help their numbers bounce back. We installed hi-tech nest boxes to provide them with safe shelter and were thrilled to discover families of greater gliders had set up camp in our boxes just a few months later.

But greater gliders don’t follow borders, so their home ranges take them beyond the protection of the national park. This means they can easily roam into the state forest where logging occurs.

After learning the lives of greater gliders and the recovery projects we’d worked so hard on were at risk, we immediately called on our supporters to speak up for these incredible marsupials and end logging in the area. Thousands of you sprung into action, prompting an investigation by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency. After finding a deceased greater glider just 50 metres from where logging was taking place, we were relieved when they issued a temporary Stop Work Order.

Dr Kita Ashman among the destroyed greater glider habitat in Tallaganda State Forest

We then worked with our dedicated partners, Wilderness Australia and South East Forest Rescue, to survey the area for greater glider den trees and uncovered even more troubling news. Despite knowing of protected species in the area, it was discovered that the habitat surveys by the Forestry Corporation of NSW weren’t carried out properly – greater gliders are nocturnal, but the surveys were carried out during the day. These surveys are critical in identifying trees where greater gliders make their homes and ensuring that no logging occurs within a 50-metre exclusion zone. Investigations by WWF-Australia and our partners identified 17 greater glider den trees in less than four hours they were in the area. With the Forestry Corporation of NSW claiming to have found just one in an area 600 times the size, our investigations revealed they’d likely breached logging standards and failed to protect important den trees more than a thousand times.

The Stop Work Order has been extended, allowing more time for the NSW Environmental Protection Agency’s investigations to continue. But a temporary suspension isn’t enough.

The future for Australian forests

To give greater gliders and other wildlife a fighting chance at survival, ending native forest logging must be permanent, not only in Tallaganda State Forest but throughout Australia. Strengthening and reforming national nature laws – particularly the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), Australia's main national environmental legislation – will be critical in ensuring a future with greater gliders in it, where our biodiversity is able to thrive.

Dr Kita Ashman, WWF-Australia's Threatened Species & Climate Adaptation Ecologist, releasing a GPS collared greater glider
Dr Kita Ashman, WWF-Australia's Threatened Species & Climate Adaptation Ecologist, releasing a GPS collared greater glider © WWF-Australia / Oliver Risi

“Our wildlife and wild places cannot afford to wait this long for action,” says WWF-Australia’s Chief Conservation Officer, Rachel Lowry. “Australia’s list of threatened species has grown by 8% since 2016, and we’re losing vast stretches of forests and habitat every year.”

Now is the time to turn this around so we can regenerate nature by 2030. 

Tallaganda State Forest is one of the last places of refuge for priority species like greater gliders. Stop the logging now and send an urgent message to politicians that we need stronger national nature laws to protect them and the places they call home.