Leadbeater’s Possums (VCE Enviro Science Unit 3) for Y 12

  • Forest
  • Human Impacts
  • Possums
  • Enviro Science
  • Conservation

Excursion Program Overview

It is believed that Leadbeater’s Possum evolved about 20 million years ago. Historical records and fossil distribution suggest they once colonised a large area of the Great Dividing Range from north of Melbourne to south of Sydney. There are estimably to be between 1,000 and 2,000 only species left in highland populations.

During this 4 hour program, you will visit the majestic mountain ash forests of Toolangi, exploring the intricate ecosystems found in the Victorian Central Highlands and a clear felled logging coupe. You will discuss present management of the forests and how this affects overall biodiversity and that of the survival of the Leadbeater’s Possum and the changes made to logging to protect them. Students will make observations and have the option of collecting data to be used for the Outcome’s Assessment task in relation to the management of this threatened endemic species.

The full day (4 hour) program includes visits to:
• Leadbeater’s Possum habitat
• Mountain Ash forest with old growth trees
• Logging coupe

Inclusions and Notes

Equipment supplied by Gould League: Safety helmets worn by all participants; workbooks and all tools required for fieldwork data collection.

Equipment needed: A chartered bus (which is required to remain with the group at all times). First aid kit, sun screen, insect repellent and PPE including hand sanitiser to ensure a Covid safe excursion.

Student needs to bring: Their own water and lunch, sunscreen, a clipboard, pencil, and a copy of the Gould League workbook (usually sent 14 days prior to excursion so copies can be made for students) to guide the program, bag to take away your rubbish.

Restrictions: This Gould League program is delivered in the Toolangi State Forest, in the North Central Fire District and does not operate on days with a Fire danger rating of Extreme and Catastrophic. On rare occasions, programs may be postponed due to extreme weather predictions involving wind/storms. In both cases, these programs will be rescheduled at the earliest convenience of both parties.
Programs however DO operate during wet/snowy weather. Please contact us to discuss the best timing to optimize your group’s experience and ensure suitable clothing and footwear for the conditions predicted. Plan for wet weather from April-October, and expect temperatures at least 5 degrees colder than suburban Melbourne.

Curriculum Links

Key Knowledge for AOS 1 Outcome 1

Importance of biodiversity

  • Ecosystems as a source of renewable services that impact on human well-being including provisioning services (food, water, pharmaceuticals), regulating services (carbon sequestration, climate control), and supporting services (soil formation, nutrient and water recycling, air and water purification

    Biodiversity change over time
  • The impact of humans on the present rate of species extinction
  • The isolation of populations over short (volcanic eruptions or fire), medium (El Nino) and long (tectonic plate movement and evolution) time scales that can produce different species that are unable to interbreed, are endemic to a location, form a diversity hotspot, or become extinct.

    Measuring changes in biodiversity
  • Sampling methods used for assessing species diversity including grids, transects, different shaped quadrats (including consideration of edge effects), and mark-recapture
  • Conservation classification of species and how this depends on measures including changes in the geographic range and number of individuals within that range, the date the species was last recorded, and the extent of habitat.

Threats to biodiversity

  • Predictions of species population survival using probabilities including likelihood of extinction
  • Human and non-human threats to biodiversity including: creation and isolation of small populations through habitat modification and over-exploitation; genetic swamping, inbreeding, and demographic variation due to small population size; loss of pollinators, dispersal agents, host species or symbionts that affect reproduction and persistence of species; and exotic species that compete for habitat, shelter and food
  • Assessment of threat in defining conservation categories for a species and/or ecosystem, including extinct in the wild, conservation dependent, critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.

Protection and restoration of  biodiversity

  • Strategies for maintaining and growing populations that also build species resilience to changes in the environment, including: protected areas; retaining remnant vegetation; wildlife corridors or zones; translocation of animals; habitat regeneration, restoration or replacement; captive breeding and reintroduction programs; gene banks for the collection of specimens and genetic material; and reduction and improved targeting of pesticides in agricultural and urbanised areas
  • The application of relevant international, national, state and local legal treaties, agreements and regulatory frameworks that apply to the protection of threatened species including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, World Heritage areas, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Australia), Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, and local government conservation covenants
  • Sustainability principles relevant to biodiversity conservation including: inter- and intra-generational equity including funding of selected species; the precautionary principle in relation to habitat change or introduction of species; ethical principles for managing biodiversity including justice and beneficence; and value systems including anthropocentrism, biocentrism and ecocentrism.

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