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Ten threatened native mammals found in Gippsland are on a priority list of species targeted for special protection measures as the Federal Government expands its network of safe havens to reduce the risk of the animals’ extinction.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said mountain pygmy possums, broad toothed rats, long footed potoroos and the New Holland mouse were among the mammals in Gippsland which the Federal Government wanted to protect from invasive predators.

“Safe havens are areas where predators such as feral cats and foxes have been permanently removed from fenced areas and islands to give native wildlife lasting, long-term protection,” Mr Chester said.

“We are trying to stop the decline in numbers of these precious, unique animals and support their recovery by establishing new safe havens and expanding existing ones. It’s one of the priority actions of our Threatened Species Strategy.

“The summer bushfires took a terrible toll on native animals in Gippsland. If we can protect mammals that are highly susceptible to predators, we will make a meaningful difference to their long-term survival.”

The Federal Government will pay for new and expanded safe havens through its Environment Restoration Fund.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the havens played a critical role in the fight against extinction and in establishing insurance populations.

“We want to invest in visionary projects that protect our native mammals at risk of extinction from foxes and feral cats so we can extend the network of safe havens across the country,” Minister Ley said.

”The havens provide valuable scientific data on longer-term means of species’ recovery and can be a springboard for the future reintroduction of once locally extinct populations.”

The Safe Havens Grants program will run over three years. Eligible applicants, which include local government agencies, regional national resource management organisations, and Indigenous not-for-profit corporations, can apply for amounts between $500,000 and $1.8 million. The funding sought may cover 100% of eligible project expenditure.

Projects must be completed by May 31, 2023. For details, visit https://www.business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/environment-restoration-fund-safe-havens-grants. Applications close January 21, 2021.

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