Friday 05/01/2015 Jason Dowling, The Age
Environment groups are preparing a court bid to protect the remnant southern brown bandicoot population in Melbourne's south east.
The Green Wedges Coalition and Environmental Justice Australia will argue approved urban expansion in Melbourne's south east will threaten the future of the remaining bandicoots and are calling for a functional wildlife corridor.
The coalition's Rosemary West said it was tragic that the past two state governments have rezoned extensive areas in the south east that have included southern brown bandicoot habitat without adequate wildlife corridors.
This will clearly push the southern brown bandicoot to extinction in this area, she said.
Felicity Millner from Environmental Justice Australia said documents have been lodged in the federal court for a case between the Green Wedges Coalition and Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
The case is currently about whether there is adequate protection for seasonal herbaceous wetland in Melbourne's south east under the minister's approval for urban expansion, issued under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Ms Millner said Environmental Justice Australia intends to seek to amend the case to include a challenge in relation to the southern brown bandicoot.
We are hoping that this case provides an opportunity to get better bandicoot protection in the south east otherwise we are concerned the population will become locally extinct, she said.
We don't think the federal approval adequately protects a number of species including the southern brown bandicoot, she said.
Victoria's acting Environment Minister, Natalie Hutchins, said we understand there are concerns in the community about the weak protections for the southern brown bandicoot recommended by the previous Liberal government, and signed off by Tony Abbott.
She said the government was looking at options to protect the bandicoots.
Jennifer Cunich, executive director of the Property Council, said they were hesitant about seeing an expansion of existing wildlife corridors now that an agreement on their boundaries has been signed off.
Wildlife corridors based upon gut feeling are like pencil lines drawn on a napkin. Without scientific evidence to back up their placement, they will do little to help protect our natural wildlife, she said.
Ms Cunich said a review of the existing boundaries would be a backward step.
The original federal decision on the bandicoot plan was made by the parliamentary secretary. Mr Hunt excused himself from the decision because he is the local member for the area and had been discussing the issue with various groups for several years.
Mr Hunt said on Thursday he was committed to the protection of the Southern Brown Bandicoot.