Work to clear a 20-hectare section of unburnt mature growth forest on fire-ravaged South Coast will be halted to allow an independent survey of a threatened marsupial.
Residents of Manyana have been protesting plans by developer Ozy Homes to build 180 homes on the land, saying too much local bushland has already been lost to recent fires.
The Federal Court on Wednesday approved undertakings by Ozy Homes to stop all work except perimeter fencing at Manyana Beach Estate so an ecologist can assess the importance of the land to the greater glider.
The marsupial, found in forests from north Queensland to central Victoria, is listed as vulnerable by the federal environment department.
Environment Defenders Office boss David Morris said the department named the greater glider as requiring the highest priority for management after this summer's bushfires.
"A key action was to protect unburnt areas," he said in a statement.
"So this is a start and it is positive but we'll be back again next week to put more evidence before the court."
The community group behind the legal action is also concerned the proposed development could impact the critically endangered swift parrot.
"(The survey) is a step in the right direction and gives us the opportunity to keep fighting for this precious unburnt mature forest in Manyana and the vulnerable wildlife seeking refuge there," Manyana Matters spokeswoman Jorj Lowrey said in a statement on Wednesday.
The independent ecologist will be granted access to the site for three days and nights. The court will consider the results on June 5.
Approval for the project was granted in 2008.
Australian Associated Press