Inferno for our native forests as “renewable energy”


This is disgusting when one thinks about all the native animals that will suffer, and be torched to death.

Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt have just introduced changes to the Renewable Energy Target into Parliament that would allow the burning of our native forests to count towards the RET.

Labor allowed Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt to introduce a bill into Parliament that would see the burning of our native forests count towards the Renewable Energy Target. This is a disgrace, but if we act now, together we can stop this.

Click here to sign our petition calling on the old parties to not do a deal on burning our native forests.

Tony Abbott wants to do a deal with Bill Shorten that would undermine genuine renewable energy projects that reduce pollution, build a “clean economy” and “create sustainable jobs”. It’s full of political-correctness and pseudo-environmental slogans, but it’s about burning our forests, and all the biodiversity functions.

The Labor/Liberal deal on the Renewable Energy Target is already abysmally low, with Labor agreeing to a 20% cut to the target, and now they’re on the verge of undermining the RET further by allowing the law to count the burning of our native forests as ‘renewable energy’.

Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt will try and push through these changes through Parliament as quickly as possible to sweep this disgraceful deal under the rug. But we can’t let them get away with this. Add your voice before it’s too late.

The RET should be driving investment in renewable energy, growing the clean economy and creating sustainable jobs, not cutting down and burning up our native forests. Tell Tony and Bill that the burning of native forests for energy is a backward idea — it is destructive, creates pollution and is ultimately unsustainable.

Click here to sign our petition calling on political parties to not do a deal on burning our native forests.

The Wilderness Society petition: Don’t burn our native forests

Academics and celebrities support ACT kangaroos against slaughter


On 14 April 2015, the Government of the Australian Capital Territory announced its plan to proceed with the killing of up to 2,466 eastern grey kangaroos in the Canberra Nature Park between 30 April and 1 August 2015.

Shane Rattenbury Greens MLA, ACT Minister for Territory and Municipal Services; Corrections; Housing claims that “while kangaroos are native animals they are still able to damage the environment. When in large numbers they can have a negative impact on biodiversity by overgrazing sensitive grassland ecosystems.

“Unfortunately 99.5% of Australia’s temperate grassland communities have been damaged or destroyed since European settlement. In the ACT we are lucky to have retained 5% of original grassland habitat in moderate to good condition. Nevertheless many of the animals that depend on the health of the grassland are themselves at risk of extinction including the Grassland Earless Dragon, the Striped Legless Lizard, the Perunga Grasshopper and the Coorooboorama Raspy Cricket”.

He’s clearly blame-shifting and diverting from the real cause of grassland destruction in Australia, and scapegoating a native species that’s been here, and evolved, for millions of years.

That 95.5% of temperate grasslands have been destroyed or damaged SINCE European settlement is due to human population impacts and economic activities, and NOT kangaroos! Suddenly there are some very selective, myopic scientists and politicians who are extremist conservationists, but they aren’t being vocal enough on the real perpetrators of grassland destruction – land clearing for urbanisation, mining and agriculture.

Prominent writers, scientists, educators call for end to kangaroo killing by the ACT Government. A group of 50 prominent writers, scientists, educators, lawyers, including Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and the novelist David Malouf, have signed an Open Letter to the People of Canberra calling for an ‘immediate cessation’ to the annual kangaroo killings – which they describe as ‘ill-thought-out’ and which they say ‘cannot be substantiated’ – and calling for a ‘full and truly independent examination’ of the numerous matters of concern ‘by respected professionals’.
The letter, a private initiative by concerned individuals, was published in the Canberra Times on Thursday, 21 May 2015.
The letter, full list of signatories and a Fact Sheet is available online.

​A. R. C. H.
The Alliance for
Respectful Co-Habitation
An open letter to the Canberra Community concerning the killing of kangaroos (emphasis: AWPC editor)

We the undersigned believe the need for a mass killing of kangaroos by the ACT Government is ill-thought-out and cannot be substantiated. The analysis in support of such a program fails the tests of good science, conservation, animal welfare, economy and humanity.

We understand that: No causal evidence of any rigorous kind has been provided that directly links kangaroo grazing on Canberra nature reserves with the demise of other small threatened species; No assessment of the subjective lives of native animals in Canberra’s nature reserves is provided as a clue to their survival; No commonly used non-lethal management tools have been advocated by those who believe in the negative impact of the current kangaroo population on the rest of the environment, despite considerable evidence over many years and in many places that they are effective.

The decision to proceed with the killing disregards the extreme brutality of the killing process. There has been no assessment of the impact of mass native animal killings on the local economy and society and our view is that these costs are substantial.

The scientifically substantiated appreciation of other animals’ cognitive, emotional and psychological capacities requires that we break the cycle of violence of conventional management methods. Abandoning such measures offers a unique opportunity to find innovative solutions which promote sustainability and reflect the desire of communities for peaceful coexistence with other creatures on the planet.

We therefore call for an immediate cessation of the mass killing of these native animals, and for a full and truly independent examination of the above-listed and other relevant matters by respected professionals.

Pam Ahern, Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary, Victoria

Dr Rosemary Austen, kangaroo rehabilitation and translocation expert, medical practitioner, ACT

Dr Jonathan Balcombe, biologist, author, Animal Studies Dept (Chair), Humane Society University, Washington D.C. (USA)

Marc Bekoff, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder (USA)

Carolyn Drew, MA, regional director, Institute for Critical Animal Studies, ACT

Lara Drew, PhD Candidate, University of Canberra

Ray Drew, MA, wildlife photographer

Dr Dror Ben-Ami, co-founder and lead researcher, Centre of Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology, Sydney,

Jeffrey G Borchers
, PhD, LPC, ecologist, The Kerulos Center (USA)

Dr Melissa Boyde, Australasian Animal Studies Association; Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Law Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong

Gay Bradshaw, PhD (ecology), PhD (psychology), CEO, The Kerulos Center (USA)

David Brooks, author, editor, Hon. A/Prof, University of Sydney

JM Coetzee, writer

Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature, Pennsylvania State University (USA)

Dr Margo DeMello, Animals & Society Institute (USA)

Katrina Fox, journalist and author

Professor Steve Garlick, PhD, University of Technology, Sydney

Stephen Graham, LLB, Virtual Lawyers and Mediators Pty Ltd

Dr Jason Grossman, philosopher of science

Naomi Henry, Voiceless Council

Melanie Joy, PhD, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston; President, Beyond Carnism; Author

Professor Vrasidas Karalis, Modern Greek Studies, University of Sydney

John Kinsella, author, Professorial Research Fellow, UWA; Professor of Sustainability and Literature, Curtin University

Lawyers for Animals

David Malouf, writer

Clare Mann, psychologist, author, Managing Director of Communicate31

Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., author

Alex Miller, writer

Raymond Mjadwesch, ecologist

Alison Moore, Ph.D., Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong

Nic Nassuet, singer/songwriter (USA)

Mark Pearson, member, NSW Legislative Council

Teja Brooks Pribac, The Kerulos Center; PhD Candidate, University of Sydney

Daniel Ramp, Ph.D., Director, Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology, Sydney

Tracy Ryan, author

Stephen Sewell, playwright

Lynda Stoner, Animal Liberation NSW

Bill Taylor, Ph.D., retired CSIRO plant scientist

Maria Taylor, Ph.D. science communication, author, newspaper publisher

Associate Professor Nik Taylor, School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University, South Australia

Marianne Thieme, Leader & Chair, Party for the Animals, The Netherlands

Dr Christine Townend, author, founder Animal Liberation NSW, co-founder Animals Australia

Dr Richard Twine, Co-Director, Centre for Human-Animal Studies, Edge Hill University (UK)

Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel, Ph.D., Socio-Legal Studies and Human Rights, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney

Brenda Walker, writer, Winthrop Professor of English and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia

Bren Weatherstone, M.Env Sci., teacher (ACT)

Elizabeth Webby, Professor Emerita, Australian Literature, University of Sydney

Dr Richard J. White, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Sheffield Hallam University (UK)

Professor Stuart White, Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney

Phil Wollen, OAM, Founder of Winsome Constance Kindness Trust

Gypsy Wulff, Teacher, Author, Publisher, Founder of Spirit Wings Humane Education Inc.

A. R. C. H. The Alliance for Respectful Co-Habitation

(featured image: Kangaroo at Canberra nature park, between mount ainslie and Mount Majura, 25 Jan 2005)

Drought, land clearing in Queensland


(featured image: Queensland_State_Archives – land clearing Beerburrum_December 1916)

When we think about global deforestation, certain hotspots spring to mind. The Amazon. The Congo. Borneo and Sumatra. And… eastern Australia?

Yes, eastern Australia is one of 11 regions highlighted in a new chapter of the WWF Living Forests report, Saving forests at risk, which identifies the world’s greatest deforestation fronts – where forests are most at risk – between now and 2030.

The WWF Living Forests report, Saving forests at risk”, identifies the world’s greatest deforestation fronts – where forests are most at risk – between now and 2030. It estimates forest losses for eastern Australia range from 3 million to 6 million hectares, including over a million hectares of Queensland’s native vegetation. Report co-author Martin Taylor says a relaxation in land clearing regulations in NSW and Queensland could trigger a resurgence in large-scale forest clearing, mainly for livestock.

Australia is an internationally renowned biological treasure, one of 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries. Our national responsibility for maintaining the planet’s biological diversity is even greater by virtue of the uniqueness of many of our species.

Queensland needs to reinstate strong controls on broadscale land clearing, including regrowing native vegetation. The weakening of broadscale land clearing regulations has already allowed instances of substantial clearing, and this will increase in scale and frequency over time.

“Queensland has been the site of more than three quarters of Australia’s land clearing in recent decades. … From 1988 to 2009, an average of 410,000 ha was cleared per year in Queensland. Less than 2% of trees cut in this period were used for timber and 93% of the clearing was to establish pasture for livestock grazing. “Feedlots in the southern Queensland grain growing region are the greatest single consumer of feed, followed by Victorian dairy farms and NSW feedlots.” (BZE Zero Carbon Australia Land Use report p30)

Dryland salinity
has affected large areas cleared of native vegetation, and the salinity impacts of recent large-scale clearing in central Queensland have yet to be realised. Less than 10% of the original vegetation remains in some parts of southern Australia and south-east Queensland. The greatest conservation success in recent times has been the slowing of land clearing, particularly of broad-scale clearing in Queensland.

The drought in central west Queensland has left “skin and bone” kangaroos starving to death and too weak to move, residents say. The commercial kangaroo meat industry figures and Queensland senator Barry O’Sullivan both claim kangaroo numbers are out of control, despite population estimates that may suggest otherwise. The data suggests the kangaroo population in regional Queensland dropped from 26.3 million in 2013 to 22.5 million in 2014, a decrease of close to 15 per cent. There are new markets to China and Peru. No doubt this cruel industry won’t stop until they are threatened!

Despite the recent rains and coastal flooding, more than 80 per cent of Queensland remains officially drought declared. Queensland agricultural lobby groups have criticised the Labor Party over its plan to reinstate its former land clearing laws. Producers prefer to accept the inevitability of drought than to draw the dots between heavy land clearing and drought! Record numbers of Queensland cattle are going to slaughter as the drought continues to bite hard in the Sunshine State, so it’s growing- business as usual!

The Queensland Government is under pressure to stop the bulldozing of tens of thousands of hectares of bushland on Cape York, a move approved in the dying days of the previous Liberal National Party government.
(image: Recent increases in land clearing threaten Queensland’s biodiversity

The rate of large scale land clearing in Queensland is about to go off the scale unless the Palaszczuk government delivers on its pre-election promise to reinstate strong controls on large scale clearing. The warning from The Wilderness Society follows media reports in May 2015 revealing that clearing has just commenced on 32,000 hectares of World Heritage quality woodland at Olive Vale on Cape York Peninsula.

“The Olive Vale clearing is … the largest single permit that we’re aware of being granted for high value agriculture,” said Tim Seeling of the Wilderness Society. Conservationists argue that Olive Vale, which is on the Laura River 90 kilometres west of Cooktown, is home to 17 listed threatened species and a nationally important wetland, including the Gouldian Finch!

Land clearing is the main cause of biodiversity loss.
It also exacerbates erosion and salinity, reduces water quality, worsens the impacts of drought, and contributes significantly to carbon emissions. Indeed, vegetation protection laws enabled Australia to meet its Kyoto Protocol target for emissions reductions.

For yellow-bellied gliders and other species dependent on large tree hollows, it doesn’t matter how much money is spent if hollows continue to vanish from the landscape as a result of land clearing.

(image: yellow-bellied glider from web page

The most pronounced declines in koalas are in southeast Queensland, where urban development has destroyed and fragmented large areas of high quality Koala habitat, with resulting increases in mortality from vehicle collisions, dog attacks and disease. In the past 20 years, there have been substantial population declines in southwest Queensland and central Queensland due to drought, heatwaves, urbanization and land clearing.

It’s 25 years since prime minister Bob Hawke promised to plant a billion trees across Australia, the first of many ambitious schemes to reverse the destructive toll of broad-scale clearing by farmers. In 1995, Queensland premier Wayne Goss announced a plan to preserve 90 per cent of his state’s remnant native vegetation. Hawke’s billion trees were never planted and Keating and Goss were thrown out of office before they could fulfil their promises.

The re-acceleration of land clearing in Queensland puts the state on the world stage – and not in a good way. We are still in a Colonial mind-frame of desperate clearing of “messy” native vegetation, and environmental destruction, all for the economic model of production, profits and feeding an expanding number of mouths!

It’s time to stop the razing of our landscape for short-term profits, at the expense of the long-term impacts of destruction.


Swift parrots diving into extinction: logging to blame

Study: Swift Parrot Population May Decline Up To 94 Percent In 12 To 18 Years.


Sugar gliders are being blamed for the grim numbers, but researchers are ready to do what it takes to save the swift parrot. The study found that “when sugar gliders prey on the swift parrot nests in areas where there was high forest loss, 83 percent of the time the animals ate the eggs and mother.” In some cases, the mortality rate could be as high as 100 percent. So, it’s all about cause and effect, and increasing competition for dwindling resources.

Researcher Dejan Stojanovic said the research found if nothing changed, the bird’s population would decline by as much as 87 per cent.

Across southeastern Australia, the forests and woodlands where swift parrots live have been converted to farmland, swallowed by urban sprawl and been chipped away by logging.

These processes are well known to drive the decline of forest wildlife, but until recently, we didn’t fully understand the subtler effects of deforestation on swift parrots.

The Conversation: Sugar gliders are eating swift parrots – but what’s to blame?

They are very light birds, weighing about half as much as a banana – which is lucky, because they fly ridiculously long distances during winter, to forage for food and to escape the Tasmanian winter. These are tiny, kaleidoscopic technicolour parrots fly all over Australia, but come back to breed in the forests of Tasmania.

They may be going to the way of the dodo, researchers say.

Environment Tasmania said information documents revealed evidence of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) that approving logging in parrot breeding habitat despite strong scientific advice against activity in the areas. The DPIPWE departmental group also advised that logging was “… likely to interfere with the recovery objectives of the species”.

Parrot breeding habitat had already been extensively logged over recent years and that made remaining patches of swift parrot breeding habitat more important. They migrate from the Australian mainland to Tasmania to breed each spring, swift parrots rarely reuse the same nesting area in successive years. They nests are most abundant in old growth forests, but finding nests for research demands an intensive annual search across the east coast forests of Tasmania.

“Everyone, including foresters, environmentalists and members of the public will be severely affected if they go extinct,” said Professor Heinsohn from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

Swift parrots are major pollinators of blue and black gum trees which are crucial to the forestry industry, which controversially continues to log swift parrot habitat.

Making things go from bad to worse, Forestry Tasmania is considering selling nearly 40,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, after the Tasmanian Government gave it the green light to sell assets. Selling hardwood plantations would force Forestry Tasmania to log more native forests, which would “drive to the brink” endangered species like the swift parrot and the masked owl. Native species are now no more than collateral damage in the quest to capitalize our our natural heritage, and resources.

Mr Roderick from Birdlife Australia
estimates there are three to four hundred regent honeyeaters remaining, making it and the swift parrot the two most endangered of a whole suite of threatened woodland birds.

A recent Wilderness Society report has found Tasmania’s Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) is failing to protect forests and wildlife. Spokesman Vica Bayley said so far the agreement had been a failure. “We are still logging critical habitat for species such as the swift parrot,” he said.

Help save critically endangered Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters in the Hunter Valley!

Urge the Tasmanian government to protect the endangered swift parrot to save it from extinction

Birdlife Australia: Long distance champions flying into extinction

8 May 2015

While the world celebrates World Migratory Bird Day this weekend, BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Species Committee has released grim news confirming that seven of Australia’s migratory shorebird species are on a trajectory to extinction.

Australian’s love the battlers, and small-time heroes. These little birds seem insignificant, but they are amazing travellers, facing all the torrents of winds, seas, currents but face increasingly hostile and dwindling safe landings.

“Once common species like Eastern Curlew and Curlew Sandpiper are now Critically Endangered with Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot and Great Knot not far behind”, says Samantha vine, Birdlife Australia’s Head of Conservation. In 30 years these birds could be gone forever, and perhaps most alarming is the fact that the once numerous and widespread Red-necked Stint has moved onto the Near Threatened list. Modern Australia, the land of mammal extinctions, is now repeating their “success” with migratory birds!

Read also a previous article on our website: Disappearing migratory shore birds

“This miraculous bird, (Red-necked Stint) no bigger than a sparrow, is capable of flying more than 20,000 km each year. But like other migratory shorebirds, it needs Australia, China, Korea and other Asian nations to work together to protect the rich mudflats that fuel its migration,” continued Ms Vine. If they don’t have a safe stop-over point for rest and food, they die of starvation!
(image: Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Winter Plumage, Ralph’s Bay, Tasmania, Australia)

BirdLife Australia is not going to let these birds disappear without a fight. They are calling on the Australian Government to do more to protect migratory shorebirds at home and in Asia. BirdLife has launched a petition asking Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt to develop:

        • A strong national wetlands policy to address the cumulative impacts of multiple threats to our shorebirds (the ‘death by a thousand cuts’); and
        • An ambitious strategy to engage our international partners in the protection of habitat important to the survival of our shorebirds.

Wetland habitat loss and degradation is a significant threat to migratory waterbirds, and the conservation of important sites both within Australia and along their migration routes is essential to their survival. Many pressures are contributing to this degradation, of which population growth and associated coastal development are of particular concern.

Housing has become a major industry in Australia. As a result, important habitat is being lost to port developments, housing and industry in Australia each year. But it will also put a spotlight on communities taking action to protect the wetlands and shorebirds they love.

Please sign the petition, Shorebirds in Crisis

Southern Brown Bandicoot’s declining numbers in south east Victoria

THE federal Department of the Environment earlier this was trying to take the southern brown bandicoot off its threatened species list. However, Federal Environment minister Greg Hunt rejected claims his government doing this. He was responding to an article pub­lished in The Times last month (‘Bandicoot under threat from govt’, The Times 26/1/15).

In 2001 when the species was put on the endangered list, a SBB recovery groups was establish and they were selected as the flagship species in the Western Port Biosphere Reserve, to receive special attention. Hundreds of people, including scientists and government agencies, private consultants and landholders had workshops, and the Victorian government created strategy after strategy to protect them, but nothing worked.

A proposal for habitat corridors for the SBB in the draft Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, released in 2011, was withdrawn by the State Government and revised using consultation. The proposal is that there should be at least two 80m wide corridors leading to reserves to the south and reserves or Green Wedge land to the east – to ensure the sustainability of the species. The former Growling Grass Frog corridor along Clyde Creek should be reinstated.

There is too much of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy that’s left to the Precinct Structure Planning process, rather than an independent role of a monitor to ensure impartiality.

In March 2014, the Coalition state government removed habitat corridors from its plans to protect the southern brown bandicoot in the southeast. and DEPI and Parks Victoria declared a secret war on Southern Brown Bandicoot ~ April 2014

Once common in the south-east, now, just two viable populations remain in the region – at Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne and in undeveloped parts of Koo Wee Rup at the northern end of Western Port. A third population on Quail Island in Western Port has been decimated by wild pigs released on the island by hunters. The SBB is listed as an important component of the Ecological Character of the Western Port Bay Ramsar site and there is continuity of local populations of bandicoots with areas traversed by the Koo Wee Rup Bypass

Southern_Brown_Bandicoot_Victoria(image: Southern Brown Bandicoot, Cranbourne Vic 1984)

They proposed to conduct regulars fox and cat control programs in the Pines for the protection of this species, knowing very well that SBB’s are not there anymore.(Already costing well over $ 100.000.00) They refuse to install a predator-proof fence around the Pines which is the only realistic way to protect the SBB in the Pines ones re-introduced. (They just want that money)

Ecologist Hans Brunner, from Frankston, has been involved with Southern Brown Bandicoots (SBB) for more than 40 years. He vividly remembers finding SBB all over the Mornington Peninsula, in the Frankston area, and especially in the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve which had the larges and strongest colony in the region. Sadly, they have silently disappeared and in many places they’ve become extinct!

How could this happen?

Local wildlife expert Mr Legg said evidence of SBB populations recovering in a couple of places in Australia was no reason to remove legal protection. He had “reluctantly watched the crash and local extinction of SBB populations across the southeastern suburbs of greater Melbourne and within the Western Port catchment” over the past three decades.

The SBB is facing strong competition from housing growth, and urbanisation. The number of dwellings in Mornington Peninsula Shire is forecast to grow from 84,177 in 2011 to 95,955 in 2026. It’s the housing industry that’s become Victoria’s greatest growth industry, and the urban growth boundary is a slippery concept, that keeps expanding with population growth.

At least $120,000 was spent on fox and cat control, while some SBBs remained. It was unsuccessful. Protecting SBB in the region is a grand failure. What’s needed are large reserves surrounded by predator-proof fences. Some insurance colonies are need, with the rest surviving in the wild.

What’s to be gained by de-listing the SBB? Money will be saved by not having to spend in fox and cat control, and developers will be given more permits to build housing.

Jennifer Cunich, executive director of the Property Council, of course would not endorse any expansion of wildlife corridors. She dismissed any science, and any scheme would be of little benefit. It would be like a brewery recommending an AA group!

The SBB is restricted to remnant and exotic vegetation along drains and road reserves in the project area and surrounding landscape which provides cover from predators.

The VicRoads Bypass alignment intersects habitat for the SBB along the existing Healesville Koo Wee Rup Road to the south of Manks Road and core habitat of the Dalmore Koo Wee Rup Cluster of bandicoots at Railway Road/disused South Gippsland Railway Line and levees of the Bunyip River Drain Complex.

There’s no room for complacency, or sitting back watching decline. What’s needed now is to repopulate the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve, and protect the colonies at Cranbourne Botanic gardens. Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate of the modern world, and any “fauna” reserve and green wedges must have local native species. It’s easy to say there are “plenty” elsewhere, but extinction is a process, not one event, and allowing local extinctions is part of a process that MUST stop!

Screenshot from 2015-05-07 10:44:08