Southern_Brown_Bandicoot_Victoria

Possible Federal Government EPBC de-listing of endangered species – Southern Brown Bandicoot.

In 2014, a Mammal Action Plan (MAP) was set up by the Federal Government Environment Department under authority of Minister Greg Hunt.
Among many recommendations put forward by the MAP, five early recommendations included Isoodon obesulus obesulus (Southern Brown Bandicoot (South-East)) which has been tentatively recommended to be de-listed from EPBC protection.

The reason given was that there have been too many referrals.
This does not mean SBB are in surplus, it simply reflects the obvious increasing number of applications for approval of residential/commercial development and infrastructure in locations where there are listed species and environmental constraints.

If SBB is de-listed from EPBC protection , current conservation management strategies will no longer be in place and future survival of SBB could be at risk where habitat loss occurs.

The process of listing or de-listing recommended species has several stages, one of which is to receive public comment via submissions. This opportunity will close on Friday 30th January 2015.

Due to absence of information about the MAP proposal to de-list SBB, there is little time.

Please act by lodging a submission requesting that SBB remain listed under the protection of EPBC legislation.

Gloria O’Connor

Environment South East Alliance
26th January 2015
Addendum:  SBB are now extinct at Mornington Peninsula and Frankston.

SBB were in Oakleigh in 1980’s, quarries, market gardens but eventually became extinct.
SBB also went extinct in City of Kingston (Braeside Reserve, Rowan Woodlands, The Grange) in 1990’s.

This proposal is simply based on greed for housing profits, and a blatant elimination of a natural constraint to more housing developments on crucial SBB habitat!  This vandalism of the EPBC Act, by an Environment Minister, is unacceptable!

Forward comment to:
Email: species.consultation@environment.gov.au
Mail to: Marine and Freshwater Species Conservation Section Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division Department of the Environment, PO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601
View consultation documentation available on Dept. of Environment website or by circulated information through community group networks.

Southern_Brown_Bandicoot_juvenile(image: juvenile Southern Brown Bandicoot)

MarshSandpiper-large

Save, Protect and Rezone Tootgarook Swamp on the Mornington Peninsula

As the world prepares to celebrate World Wetland Day 2015 in February, the Tootgarook Swamp is facing a very uncertain future  – as a housing development!  It this how our State government’s version of wetland “conservation”?   Housing will see it gone forever!

AWPC wishes to object to the Planning Applications P14/1202 and P14/1901 at 92 Elizabeth Avenue on the following grounds,

In our opinion the Planning application does not meet the requirements of Section 12, of the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme which states,

ENVIRONMENTAL AND LANDSCAPE VALUES
Tootgarook swamp is the home of a vast number of animals including 129 bird species, 13 reptillian species, 12 mammals and 9 amphibious frog species (recorded to date).  Due to the lack of proper studies, this number would no doubt increase.

Tootgarook Swamp was once the largest landmark on the southern end of the peninsula stretching almost the whole length between the bay and the ocean. The wetland is made of a special peat soil and used to be home to hundreds of species of native fauna, many now extinct in the area.

It is home to over 120 different bird species, some of which are endangered or threatened. Many are migratory and travel thousands of kilometres to the area to use breeding site and produce new generations of birds.

The Swamp contains many indigenous flora species which no longer readily occur on the peninsula.

A lot of the Tootgarook swamp is zoned as residential and industrial and even worse is the fact that there are development proposals for approximately 80 hectares of it. This makes up almost a quarter of the swamp!

Currently approximately 77 hectares is marked for future development proposals totalling almost a quarter of the entire swamp. After another almost 3 hectares was lost to a housing subdivision infill recently.

Rezoning parts of Tootgarook Swamp for housing development should be rejected.

-Planning should help to protect the health of ecological systems and the biodiversity they support (including ecosystems, habitats, species and genetic diversity) and conserve areas with identified environmental and landscape values.

-Planning must implement environmental principles for ecologically sustainable development that have been established by international and national agreements.  The word “sustainable” far too generic and over-used, and should be replace by the word “stewardship” of ecological and environmental systems, and this “development” is nothing short of a mockery of it!

-Planning should protect sites and features of nature conservation, biodiversity, geological or landscape value.  How can digging up Tootgaroot Swamp protect any ecological features?  Housing is NOT endangered in Victoria, and our real estate Ponzi pyramid is camouflaging our economy’s weaknesses.  We should be promoting real economic prowess, productivity and innovation, not dead-end and destructive housing growth!  The more houses that are built, the more our population will increase – not the converse!

-The application not only fail to address these sections of the State Planning Policy Framework, but completely contradict it.

-It seems that extremely minimal regard has been applied to the sites ecosystem, habitat, species, biodiversity and environmental values. The fact that it makes up an important part of environmental habitat and connectivity of the Tootgarook Swamp which it is part of, landscape value and ecosystem in terms of hunting grounds, breeding grounds, food sources and wildlife refugia during and outside inundation events has not been addressed, nor does the planning application try to conserve any part of these values.  It seems that any wildlife, or habitat, or biodiversity loss is no more than collateral damage, and a mere obstruction to housing profits.

-The Tootgarook Swamp is a key natural feature of the Nepean Peninsula being only one of two natural depressions where fresh groundwater is at the surface, the other being Portsea lagoon.

-The proposed A 99 Planning development site was home to what was classified as state significant vegetation, before being modified and sown with rye grass in 2008.

-Mapping surveys carried out in 2003 by DEPI’s Arthur Rylah Institute in conjunction with the shire council and in 2006 by Practical Ecology have record of the default values of the site and should set the bench mark for appropriate offsets being made. Considering the applicants disregard for the site from 2008, the Council should not be undertaking the method of rewarding developers with permits for land that have been destroyed, or degraded by the developers.

A firm stance should be taken by this shire in order to prevent landholders and developers benefiting from illegal clearing no matter the reason or excuse, as ultimately this reduces the required number of offsets for a site, thus increasing their profitability and can be viewed as a form of fraud.

Significant fauna species that have been recorded within the site and surrounding reserves include:

Australasian Bittern,
120px-Latham's_Snipe

 

 

 

 

Latham’s Snipe, (above)

Common_Greenshank

 

 

 

Common Greenshank, (above)
Marsh_Sandpiper

 

 

 

Marsh Sandpiper,(above)

EasternGreatEgret

 

 

 

 

Eastern Great Egret (above)

Little Egret,
Intermediate Egret,
White footed dunnart,

Swamp_Skink

 

 

 

Swamp Skink (above)
Lewin’s Rail,
Glossy Grass Skink,
Australian Shoveler,
FreckledDuck

 

 

 

Freckled Duck, (above)
Nankeen Night Heron,
Royal_Spoonbill

 

 

 

Royal Spoonbill, (above)
Pacific_Gull

 

 

 

Pacific Gull (above).
The Australasian Bittern an EPBC listed and had been frequently observed and photographed on the applicant’s site this year. With the EPBC migratory (CAMBA, JAMBA, ROKAMBA and Bonn) species Latham’s Snipe, Sharp Tailed Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, and Marsh Sandpiper have been seen utilising the very front of the site.

This also does not include a large list of fauna that is of regional and local significance or uncommon.

As the proposals are situated within an area of high biodiversity value the proposals infill, design, and sitting of buildings fails to minimise the removal and fragmentation of native vegetation.

The greater Tootgarook swamp has been mapped by DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industries) as possibly containing Acid Sulphate Soils which could pose a serious problem if disturbed, both to the development and to the adjacent Sanctuary Park Bushland Reserve and Chinamans Creek Reserve as well culvert infrastructure. The boundary soils will be disturbed by any possible retaining wall construction or by heavy machinery used to batter and fill under this proposal.

Please send objection to:
A 99 LOT SUBDIVISION APPLICATION ON TOP OF A LARGE PORTION OF THE TOOTGAROOK SWAMP.

planning.submission@mornpen.vic.gov.au
Mornington Peninsula Shire,

Statutory Planning Department

Private Bag 1000

Rosebud, 3939.

This is not a “development” proposal, but is asking for a permit to vandalize an ecological feature, and biological reserve with destruction.

CommunityRun Petition:Save, Protect and Rezone Tootgarook Swamp on the Mornington Peninsula 

Visit the website SaveTootgarookSwamp

(featured image: Marsh Sandpiper)

800px-Litoria_raniformis

Bleak future for Australian frogs

In recent years, scientists have become increasingly aware of a worldwide decline in the numbers of frogs. Frogs are certainly disappearing in Australia. Eight frog species have become extinct in the last 25 years, and several more are likely to become extinct in the near future.

There have been drastic declines in the populations of amphibians, particularly frogs, throughout the world. Along the east coast of Australia, nine species of frog have totally disappeared in the past two decades, and scientists are at a loss to explain why or provide solutions – except for ‘human activities’ and population growth – but some reasons are still elusive.

Victoria’s frogs are facing a conservation crisis according to biologists, who warn that some of the state’s amphibians have “passed a tipping point”, while others have become extinct.

Baw_Baw_Frog-large(image: Baw Baw frog)

Nick Clemann, program leader (threatened fauna) at the Arthur Rylah Institute , said the prospects for the Baw Baw frog, Victoria’s only endemic frog species, were now considered “immediately bleak”.

The frog is now only found on the forested western slopes of the mountain. It’s tiny, it breeds underground and it can only be found in Victoria’s eastern Alpine region of Mount Baw Baw and one highly protected shipping container in inner Melbourne.

The spotted tree frog, found in rocky mountain streams in north-eastern Victoria, is also battling shrinking numbers, with more than half the known populations believed lost. Those that remain and are being monitored and are showing a gradual decline. Their survival is threatened by chytridiomycosis, the waterborne disease attacks the keratin in the skin and threatens all frog species. There is no effective infection control for the fungus in the wild.

To help combat the decline of Baw Baw frogs, Melbourne Zoo converted a shipping container that simulates alpine conditions, and has succeeded in establishing a small ‘insurance’ population base of 57 frogs.

The southern corroboree frog is one of Australia’s most endangered species. Arguably one of the most striking of Australia’s species, the southern corroboree frog is endemic to Australia, and in fact only lives in small pockets entirely within Kosciuszko National Park. ‘Corroboree’ refers to a meeting or gathering of Aboriginal Australians where participants often adorn themselves in white striped markings.

Southern_Corroboree_frog(image: Corroboree frog)

Threats include human impacts such as climate change, fire and habitat disturbance, as well as feral animals. But the biggest problem is the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which has been decimating frog populations around the world.

Frogs, more than any other terrestrial animal, need water to survive. In inland wetlands in NSW, water can be scarce for years and then suddenly abundant, and frogs depend on the flooding of wetlands to successfully breed.

Eighteen species of wetland and river frogs – a quarter of all frogs in NSW – are listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. They include the green and golden bell frog, southern bell frog , stuttering frog, corroboree frogs, alpine tree frog, sphagnum frog and wallum froglet.

Exotic fish threats
The plague minnow (Gambusia holbrookii) is a small fish sometimes called the mosquito fish. It was originally introduced to control mosquitoes but was not successful in doing this. It is now common and widespread, and known to eat native frog eggs and tadpoles.

Other exotic fish – such as trout, carp and goldfish – also eat native frog eggs and tadpoles.

Other threats

  • Loss of habitat: Humans can damage frog habitat in many ways. For example, people:clear large areas of native vegetation for housing and agriculture.
  • removal of fallen timber, leaf litter and other ground cover
  • drain wetlands or allow cattle to graze in them
    collection of bush rock, which is used for shelter by some frogs such as the red-crowned toadlet
  • frequently burn patches of bush which frogs shelter in reduce the quality of wildlife corridors, which connect areas of frog habitat. This makes it difficult for frogs to move from one area to another.

In our Western, consumer-based economy, underpinned by high population growth, there’s heavy competition for development of frog habitats.

Displaced and introduced frogs pose a serious risk of spreading disease to local native species

‘Banana box‘ frogs are displaced frogs that have been inadvertently moved from their normal habitat, usually in containers of fresh produce or landscape supplies. As displaced frogs pose a serious risk of spreading disease to local native species, they must be treated as if they are carrying an infectious disease and must never be released into the wild unless special approval is given.

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/ThreatsToFrogs.htm

An estimated 6000-8000 frogs are transported to Melbourne annually in produce. These tropical frogs cannot survive in Victoria’s cool climate nor can they be returned to their home state due to fears of spreading disease. These displaced frogs are cared for at the Victoria Frog Group’s and Amphibian Research Centre’s
Lost Frogs’ Home,
nursed back to health in quarantine and eventually placed into a caring home as a family pet.

Cane toads
The culling of cane toads has been widely encouraged as they are displacing native Australian frogs.
Some of our native Australian frogs look a bit like cane toads. Cane Toads are large heavily-built amphibians with dry warty skin. They have a bony head and over their eyes are bony ridges that meet above the nose. They can be distinguished from some native Australian frogs because they sit upright and are active in the daytime in dense clusters.

Deadly urban sprawl

The Growling Grass Frog, for example, is endangered in Victoria. It needs habitat corridors along creeks and waterways, such as Merri Creek, to survive and flourish.

Studies by Melbourne University researcher Dr Geoff Heard show that the frog’s population has declined by 29 per cent in Melbourne’s north since 2001-02. The Growling Grass Frog conservation corridor along the Merri will be narrowed to only 50m wide and straddled by the town centre of Lockerbie, north of Craigieburn. Melbourne’s northern growth corridor will gain 11,000 new houses with the development of the former Lockerbie sheep station. Construction is due to start within months on a new community that will eventually house 30,000 people at Kalkallo, north of Craigieburn.

Growling_Grass_Frog(image: Growling Grass Frog)

It is estimated more than $986 million will be collected over the 30 to 40 years it will take to develop the growth corridors . The money will go towards buying land for reserves and management of the sites.

The government will also release strategies to protect key species threatened by Melbourne’s growth, including the endangered growling grass frog and golden sun moth.

Somehow, planners will have the contradictory task of trying to save endangered specie, yet at the same time promote housing growth! In the land famous for extinctions, the competition between housing/economic growth, and the protection of habitats for native species, continues to untangle, but the latter are always hindsight consideration – and collateral damage!

Ecological role of amphibians

A good ecosystem is the one with many species variety whereby it has less chances of being extremely damaged by natural disasters like climate changes or even human interaction. So as to help to keep the system healthy, each and every species has a niche in its ecosystem.
Frogs mainly feed on insects as their main sustenance and also native pests whereby with this, the insect and pests population is regulated which could have been hazardous to the rest of the environment if it was not kept down. Forest streams have leaf litter as their main source of energy where animals feed on leaves and nutrients get released as a result of tadpole activity that becomes an advantage to microorganisms, algae and other animals.

(featured image: Growling Grass frog)

KoalaPark

Match Labor’s commitment to establish a Great Koala National Park

KoalaPark
You will no doubt be aware that koalas are in trouble in NSW. Their population has plummeted by one third over just three koala generations. The greatest threats to koalas are habitat loss and fragmentation and habitat degradation. The risk of vehicle strike and dog attack are heightened as a result of fragmentation as koalas spend more time on the ground moving between patches.

Research shows that large protected areas are the most effective conservation tool available. The Great Koala National Park would protect two nationally significant koala metapopulations totaling 20% of NSW’s koalas in a single, large, national park.

Due to the iconic status of the koala to the NSW public, we believe that a concerted effort must be made to protect the species. The Great Koala National Park would be a major step towards ensuring koalas are a familiar sight for generations to come. It would also protect a host of other threatened species and the most diverse eucalypt forests on earth.

We believe that the long-term protection of the iconic koala, and the sustainable tourism potential the Great Koala National Park offers, outweigh short-term gains from logging these State Forests.

We the undersigned urge you to protect the koala for future generations by immediately implementing the Great Koala National Park proposal.

Change.org petition: Match Labor’s commitment to establish a Great Koala National Park

say-no-to-rhino-horn-trade-iarf-africa

Stand Up For South African Rhino

Featured image: Rhinoceros horn is not up for sale

The South African government is moving to legalise the selling of rhino horn, at a time when poaching is out of control and rhinos face extinction in the wild.

Almost 15% of the rhinos in South Africa have been slaughtered since 2010, 1116 in 2014 alone. Often the poachers hack off the rhino horn while the animal is still alive, then leave the animal to die in agony.

Legalising the trade in rhino horn will allow the South African government to sell 22 tons of rhino horn that it has in storage (roughly 25 000 dead rhinos) but that would not even dent demand in China and other Asian countries. Instead the illegal trade will boom because it will become easy for a criminal to pass off a poached rhino horn as legal.

Today, please email the South African Environmental Affairs Minister, and urge South Africa to say no to legalizing rhino horn sales.

Please sign the PETITION to the South African Environmental Affairs Minister

rhinocollage4

CayBramble

Another mammal slips into extinction in Australia

More than 1,850 animals and plants are listed as threatened under Commonwealth legislation (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act). For more than 800 of these we know what needs to be done to avert extinction.

Since European colonisation, 30 mammals (more than 10% of Australia’s mammal species) have shared this fate. Australia has one of the worst extinction records of any country of modern times.

Last July, the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, announced the appointment of Gregory Andrews as Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner. His mission: to help avert the extinction of a growing number of native plant and animal species. An enormous task!

Andrew’s first appointment was to lead a team of scientists to Bramble Cay, an unstable 4-5 hectare coral bank in the eastern Torres Strait off the tip of northern Australia. The team searched for the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent recorded nowhere else but here and not seen since 2007.

Our mammal losses are continuing, with the extinction of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle in 2009, and the extinction of the Bramble Cay Melomys, largely due to neglect.

With a population of less than 100 individuals inhabiting a single small sand cay whose existence is threatened by erosion, the Bramble Cay melomys is one of the most threatened mammals in Australia. Bramble Cay melomys appear to primarily inhabit the vegetated portion of the cay, an area of about 2.2ha.

It’s thought the endemic rodent, first described in 1924, could extend into other islands in the Torres Islands or even Papua New Guinea, but none have been recorded anywhere but on Bramble Cay. In the late 1970s, visitors to the cay noted there were hundreds of the rats, but a 2004 survey estimate only 93 were left. A survey from 2004 found it likely that fewer than 50 individuals remained.

CayBramble

(image: http://secure.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/pubs/bramble-cay-melomys.pdf )

Australian Geographic: Endangered species Bramble Cay Melomys rat

-The cay is in a state of flux with its movements strongly influenced by the prevailing weather patterns.

-The cay’s isolation, close proximity to PNG and its use as an anchorage by fishing boats means there is a threat of pest and/or disease establishment from introduced exotic predators and weeds.

They failed to find any trace of the species, suggesting that it is extinct.

Australia was recently ranked among the bottom 40 countries for the funding of its share of global biodiversity, considering its governance, size and wealth.

Prioritising which animals and plants to save is controversial because it implies triage – giving up on some to save others.