These are just some of the tools the Victorian Government is using to gather better data on threatened species in and around logging coupes as part of the $18.3 million Forest Protection Survey Program.
The program, part of the Government’s reforms to forest management, works to detect and better protect threatened species and other high conservation values in logging coupes before they are harvested.
The program is using technology, such as automatic motion and heat sensor cameras which are triggered by the presence of an animal. These are helping find the Long-footed Potoroo, Spot Tailed Quolls and Southern Brown Bandicoot.
Thermal cameras placed in tree-tops, known as arboreal cameras, are also being used to detect Victoria’s faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum. Nine of these are installed at strategic locations inside each logging coupe surveyed, to achieve maximum coverage.
Surveyors use bait – mostly creamed honey – to attract the possums into camera range.
These cameras use heat-sensing technology that trigger an infra-red ‘flash’ when movement is detected around the honey bait – capturing images of sometimes multiple possums at the same time.
Teams are also using audio recordings of species’ calls, particularly those of owl and possum species, to attract animals and gather even more data.
The program is also investing in and trialling advanced technology including software driven by artificial intelligence to automatically analyse camera images. The analysis will automatically determine if an animal in an image and will eventually be able to identify some animals to species level. This will be a significant improvement on the current manual image analysis process.
The Forest Protection Survey Program is an important part of the Victorian Government’s reforms which also include modernising the state’s Regional Forest Agreements, improving legislation governing state forests and uplift of environmental regulation by creating the Office of the Conservation Regulator.
Page last updated: 27/07/20