Tag Archives: Queensland

Our laws failed these endangered flying-foxes at every turn.

spectacled-flying-fox-InigoMerriman_Conversation_July2020

Cairns council, Qld, will put another nail in the coffin.

CAIRNS REGIONAL COUNCIL will disperse up to 8,000 endangered spectacled flying-foxes from their nationally important camp in central Cairns.


NEWS UPDATE:  PERIOD FOR THE DISPERSAL EVICTION HAS BEEN
EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER TWO MONTHS!
 
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The camp is one of the last major strongholds of the species, harbouring, on average, 12% of Australia’s remaining spectacled flying-foxes. But after recent catastrophic declines in spectacled flying-fox numbers, moving them from their home further threatens the species survival.

CAPTION: Spectacled flying-foxes are important pollinators and seed dispersers in Australia’s Wet Tropics. IMAGE: Inigo Merriman. [Yes the picture is placed the correct way.]


Read more:
Not in my backyard? How to live alongside flying-foxes in urban Australia


Yet, the federal environment minister approved the dispersal last month under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) — Australia’s key environment legislation for protecting threatened species, and currently under a ten-year review.

This planned dispersal — which the council says is in the interests of the species — is set to conclude a long series of controversial management actions at the site. The EPBC Act failed to protect the species at every turn. The camp may now be non-viable for the flying-foxes.

IMAGE: David Pinson, CC BY-NC-ND

Decline of the rainforest specialist

Spectacled flying-foxes are critical for pollination and dispersing fruit in Australia’s Wet Tropics, and so underpin the natural values of this world heritage-listed region.

But habitat destruction and harassment largely caused the species’ population to drop from 250,000 in 2004 to 75,000 in 2017. Subsequent monitoring has, so far, shown no sign of recovery.

In late November 2018, another 23,000 bats — a third of the population — died from heat stress. It marks the second largest flying-fox die-off in recorded history.

Today, the camp is not only home to a big portion of the species, but also around 2,000 pups each year. Flying-foxes are extremely mobile in the region, so the camp provides a roosting habitat for more than what’s present at any one time.

Endangered spectacled flying-foxes are set to be dispersed from their camp in Cairns CBD, one of the last strongholds of the species.
IMAGE: Justin Welbergen

Why dispersals don’t work

The council is permitted to disperse the flying-foxes with deterrent measures, including pyrotechnics, intense lighting, acoustic devices and other non-lethal means.

The Conversation sought a response to this article from Cairns Regional Council. A spokesperson said:

Relocation measures will only occur between May and September — outside of the spectacled flying fox pup rearing season to avoid a disruption to the species’ breeding cycle.

The relocation activity will be undertaken by appropriately qualified and experienced individuals and non-lethal methods will be used.

The program is tailored to minimise any stress on the animals and causes no injury of any type.

However, ample evidence shows dispersals are extremely costly, ineffective and can exacerbate the very wildlife management issues they aim to resolve.

Dispersals risk stressing the already disturbed animals, and causing injuries and even abortions and other fatalities. They also risk shifting the issues to other parts of our human communities, as the bats tend to end up settling in an unanticipated location after having been shuffled around town like a game of musical chairs.

Even in the often-cited example of the “successful” relocation of vulnerable grey-headed flying-foxes from the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 2003, experts couldn’t direct the bats to their designated new camp.

Instead, the flying-foxes formed a permanent camp at Yarra Bend, one kilometre short of the intended destination, where they’re now subjected to renewed calls for culling or dispersal.


Read more:
No, Aussie bats won’t give you COVID-19. We rely on them more than you think.


‘Fogging’ is one of several methods used to disperse flying-foxes from their camps.  SOURCE: Australasian Bat Society

Poor management

Cairns Regional Council argues their decision to attempt to move the bats to the Cairns Central Swamp is in the long-term interest of their survival. A council spokesperson says:

Heat stress events, urban development and increased construction in close proximity to the Cairns City Library roost will continue to stress and adversely affect the spectacled flying fox population.

Also, the health of roost trees at the library site, and therefore the viability of the site as a spectacled flying fox roost, is diminishing. Council believes relocation will mitigate human/flying fox conflict, enable the trees at the library to recover, and will likely reduce the high rates of pup mortality that have been recorded at the library colony.

But these animal welfare concerns arose from the accumulated impacts of the council’s poor management actions, or actions the council supported.

In 2014, the council was found guilty, under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act, of driving away spectacled flying-foxes and illegally pruning the habitat trees.

Over the past seven years, most roosting trees of the Cairns CBD camp were either removed or heavily pruned, resulting in the destruction of more than two-thirds of the available roosting habitat.
IMAGE: Provided by authors.

The Cairns camp was then subjected to a series of EPBC-approved roost tree removals in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Collectively these destroyed more than two-thirds of the available roosting habitat at the site.

This directly contradicts the specific EPBC Act referral guideline, which states actions to manage the flying-fox camps should not significantly impact the species.

And in 2015, Cairns Aquarium developers had to destroy trees home to hundreds of spectacled flying-foxes before they could start construction. That’s because under the EPBC Act, no building near or around the flying-foxes is permitted. In this case, the act’s well-intentioned protection measures caused far more harm than good.

Removals (X) of roost trees from the Cairns flying-fox camp between 2013 and 2020. The new white rectangular buildings visible in 2020 are high-rise hotel (centre) and Cairns aquarium (top) developments.
IMAGE: Provided by authors.

Warnings fall on deaf ears

In the meantime, the national conservation status of the spectacled flying-fox moved too slowly from “vulnerable” to “endangered” in the listing process.

In 2017 the government’s own Threatened Species Scientific Committee advised listing the species as endangered, which would provide them with more protection.

But when the spectacled flying-fox was finally declared endangered in February 2019, they already qualified as critically endangered, according to official guidelines.


Read more:
Let there be no doubt: blame for our failing environment laws lies squarely at the feet of government


What’s more, the state government’s recovery plan for the spectacled flying-fox — in place since 2010 — has never been implemented.

Are there any solutions?

There are no solutions under the EPBC Act as it’s currently framed.

The tragic end to the story is that a dangerous precedent is being set for flying-fox management in Australia. Bat carers in Cairns are readying themselves for an influx of casualties from the dispersal.

Some bat carers have sadly reached the conclusion the dispersal is now the least-bad option for the bats after their stronghold suffered a death by a thousand cuts, leaving their home unviable.

The review of the EPBC Act must see strengthened legislation to prevent such tragic outcomes for our threatened species. Australia’s inadequate protections allow species to be pushed towards extinction at one of the highest rates in the world.


Maree Kerr contributed to this article. She is a co-convenor of the Australasian Bat Society’s Flying-Fox Expert Group; an invited expert on the Cairns Regional Council’s Flying-fox Advisory Committee; President of Bats and Trees Society of Cairns; and is studying the role of education in public perceptions of flying-foxes at Griffith University

Evan Quartermain contributed to this article. He is Head of Programs at Humane Society International and a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.The Conversation

Justin A. Welbergen, President of the Australasian Bat Society | Associate Professor of Animal Ecology, Western Sydney University; Noel D Preece, Adjunct Asssociate Professor, James Cook University, and Penny van Oosterzee, Adjunct Associate Professor James Cook University and University Fellow Charles Darwin University, James Cook University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Deliberate fire destruction of world heritage Hinchinbrook Island (Qld), wildlife and forests

Management mania’s lethal path in Australia. 360 degrees counter to Aboriginal use of patchwork cool burns for land management.

Story and photo by Ian McCallan from Hinchinbrook Island and Cardwell

Hinchinbrook Island, pristine landscape. Tourism promotion.

NATIONAL PARKS QUEENSLAND continue to ignore their charter: To manage our forests using “Minimum human interference”; protect from all interference other than essential management practices so that natural attributes are preserved and parks are actively managed to conserve wildlife.

National Parks are now ‘landscaping’ wilderness to their preferred designs and the tool they use to achieve their aims is fire. They are managing our forest by continually burning them despite the obvious cruelty to wildlife and the extremely dangerous airborne pollution threat.

Hinchinbrook Island, off the east coast north of Townsville, is Australia’s largest Island National Park and World-heritage listed. Home to the rare and endangered Blue Banksia, (falsely claimed by QPWS to require fire to germinate) the Island has over the past few years been subjected to repeated major destructive interference by National Parks.

Fire from the sky destroys kilometres of forest

National Parks senior management have kept silent about a series of hot burns largely from incendiaries dropped from helicopters which we believe began in September 2014 on Hinchinbrook Island and continued into 2019 when nearby Gould Island was also included.

It is extraordinary, but Hinchinbrook Island together with all the other tropical islands off the north Queensland coast (with the exception of Dunk Island) have been deliberately burnt for many years.

The Hinchinbrook fires, planned and ignited by National Parks in September of 2014 destroyed about eighteen square kilometres of forest on the steep slopes of the Island right in the centre of the most attractive part of the Thorsborne Trail. Subsequent fires have enveloped even more of the Island and destroyed more Blue Banksia.

the wet tropical vegetation on Hinchinbrook needs no fires to survive; hazard reduction burns out of control

While the wet tropical vegetation on Hinchinbrook needs no fires to survive, the eucalypt forest favoured by National Parks “needs” cruel maintenance burns every five or so years. These burns kill rainforest species which National Parks describe as “Invasive rain forest”. Natural vegetation has been replaced by an intensely thickened Wattle dominated forest in the burn areas.

The subsequent airborne pollution kills native wildlife and the people who have the misfortune to live in the path of these huge and deadly smoke plumes. The majority of native animals unable to fly endure extreme cruelty.

Months after the 2014 Hinchinbrook fire, we were contacted by an expert witness who reported that a very hot fire had caused catastrophic irreparable damage to the forests of magnificent Hinchinbrook Island.

At that stage we did not know the cause of this fire. Investigations rapidly uncovered that this was yet another hazard reduction burn that went out of control and will take many, many years to repair. It was many months before we were able to get to the island to investigate, the damage was horrific with virtually every living thing killed.

Hot fires out of control on other islands, without regard to ecology, cyclone recovery

Last year (2019) Gould Island — just to the north of Hinchinbrook Island — was also burnt at the worst possible time, creating a hot-burn right in the middle of the nesting season for the Pied Imperial Pigeon. Large numbers of chicks together with most other native animals would have been incinerated.

The protection of rare species such as the Blue Banksia should be of paramount importance. The burn area contained significant numbers of saplings and many mature trees in the process of recovery from cyclone Yasi in 2011, the vast majority of this species were destroyed.

On our first visit, we searched for living specimens but could only find two tiny seedlings. The damage to both fauna and flora has resulted in substantial alterations to the natural biodiversity of these islands. National Parks destruction of rain forest species which do not burn readily, has resulted in dry eucalypt forests that are substantially more flammable than the forest it replaces.

In 2019, more fires were lit in extremely dry conditions at the beginning of November. These burnt fiercely for over four weeks causing extreme levels of life-threatening airborne pollution affecting the health and well-being of people in Port Douglas, Cairns, Innisfail and Mission Beach in the north to Ingham in the South. For the duration of this fire Hinchinbrook Island could not be seen from the adjacent mainland such was the level of dangerous airborne pollution.

Fire followed by heavy rainfall = erosion. Who is making these decisions?

Subsequent heavy tropical rainfall will have caused serious erosion of the now unprotected thin layer of topsoil on the very steep slopes at the top of some of the mountains. Twenty years ago, it would be unheard of to ignite major fires in the beginning of the wet [season] pointing the finger at inexperienced staff making decisions they were not capable of making.

National Parks have kept quiet about this and despite the carnage the people responsible still work for National Parks and plan further burns for this magnificent and very important World Heritage Area. As far as we know and despite the serious nature of the damage, no prosecutions are planned by the minister, Wet Tropics Management Authority or QPWS.

They started burning Cardwell a few days ago and really got stuck in. Mountains behind Cardwell, (the Cardwell Range) is almost invisible and they have just started. (Photographed end April 2020.)

An informal Cardwell-based group was formed to combat the destruction of our wet tropics forests and wildlife by continual burning and to make the public aware of the extreme dangers of breathing heavily polluted air. Air quality in the wet tropical regions is dangerously compromised by months of heavy smoke from National Parks ignited forest fires.

Despite the fact that airborne pollution is responsible for over 3,000 premature deaths in Australia every year (over double the road toll), the local town of Cardwell is blanketed in thick smog usually for several weeks at a time. This pollution is apparently necessary for National Parks landscaping.

The publication of US research into the deadly effects of Pm 2.5 airborne pollution, the major component of bio mass smoke, paint an awful picture for the people that live close to these magnificent Islands. Far North Queensland should have the cleanest air in Australia yet National Parks are now one of the biggest creators of this deadly pollution.

Pm 2.5 is the new asbestos but unlike asbestos this is affecting everybody down wind of the burn sites.

Blitzkrieg of fire novel in the 70,000-year history of fires in Australia.

Historical research post-European settlement indicates that there is a huge, almost vertical, spike of burning beginning about two hundred years ago that is still rising. This peak suggests a huge rise in deliberately-lit fires, as far as can be ascertained far higher than any other event, in the 70,000-year period of human habitation of the continent.

[Learning from traditional Aboriginal patch-burning with cool fires is a far cry from dropping incendiary devices for hot burns across the countryside, particularly in an era of climate changed-induced drought and bushfires, Editor.]

We questioned the QPWS officers responsible for fires in this area about the pollution they create and this was their answer:

“Bush fire smoke is a perfectly natural substance and therefore completely harmless.”

They also replied to questions about how many plants required fire to germinate, the answer was 26.

The current research shows there are no plants in the Mediterranean climate areas of Australia, that is the areas containing the fire belts of Australia, that need fire to germinate. Australia has about 30,000 plant species the vast majority of which are either severely damaged or killed by fire.

Author’s conclusion of this investigation

I believe the World Heritage listing for Hinchinbrook Island should be suspended until a full and independent investigation has taken place to determine the competency of National Parks to manage World Heritage sites such as Hinchinbrook and Gould Island, and that they should be required to show good cause for their deliberate failure to comply with their own directives and management protocols to responsibly manage world heritage areas.

The extensive research into hazard reduction burning shows clearly this practice does not work.

Extensive US research into the extreme dangers of inhalation of Pm 2.5 was completed in about February of 2020. See above link to ABC Radio National Health report.

The deliberate production of this substance and its distribution throughout Australia should be banned immediately without exception.

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Wildlife starved and water deprived by farmer cluster fences (Qld)

On 15 January 2020 Lyn Gynther, Kangawatch Queensland posted on Facebook:

Kangaroos in their hundreds in Queensland are huddled under trees on the Surat to St George Road looking extremely poor because farmers have fenced off their properties and the roos can’t access water … this is absolutely disgusting and it is happening right across other parts of Queensland as well where this cluster fencing is being erected.

What is the matter with the government in this country not to mention the RSPCA for not stopping this fencing fracturing the ecosystem to begin with … I’m so angry, I hope every farmer in that area goes broke. And I don’t wish harm to anyone normally but anyone who can stand by and do this is not worth the piece of paper their name is written on.

On 16 January Lyn posted:

I just rang the Maranoa Council (1300 007 662) about the kangaroos on the Surat–St George Road and asked that they please put out water stations … I was told they would NOT be helping the kangaroos in any way and the council have been in fact funding farmers to erect exclusion fencing and since this has happened, the sheep farmers production rate has increased from 0.1% lambing to 60% lambing as a result of wild dogs [being kept out] but they did admit that exclusion fencing has also been erected on some properties solely to keep macropods locked out.

They further told me that it is not their responsibility to worry about wildlife and that the reason they won’t be putting any water out for them is because it will cost them money to do so and they need to spend the rate payers money in line with how the community expect it to be spent … I was then told to contact DPI who deal with the QLD FERAL PEST INITIATIVE program.

They said there are 5 water facilities on the stock route (which farmers can also use — so obviously there are also stock on the stock routes eating what little feed there is left for wildlife) and those water facilities are 1 every 10klms … they are aware of 2 that are dry due to the drought but still will not help the animals. Oh, and BioSecurity may also be someone to speak to (I was told), and at the end of the day Agricultural Management has to come before the wildlife.

Comment thread to Lyn’s post indicate there are many Australian citizens and ratepayers who agree with Lyn and would not agree with the council.

Lyn then wrote to a Brisbane journalist:

I contacted the Maranoa Council yesterday [see outcome above] after I got a report that more than 200 kangaroos were locked out with the exclusion fencing on the Surat–St George Road and they were unable to access water.

ALSO note that DES [Queensland Dept of Environment and Science] have tried to investigate a number of illegal culls (eg helicopter blasting away the roos; urea in water; illegal shooting) but no one will speak when they get out there … also permits are not being applied for, they are just doing it on a grand scale now … but still the DES are issuing permits to others knowing full well it is going on.

— Kanga Watch Inc. Qld Division   www.kangawatch.com


Contact Lyn for further information and please support her efforts for the kangaroos (and other wildlife like emus, as seen in this image taken mid-2018) locked out of their usual wildlife corridors. This exclusion fencing (inset) locks out and traps wildlife (then often shot) has become a feature of an opportunistic return in central Queensland to sheep farming as wool prices have recovered.

Lyn Gynther — QLD Co-Ordinator
C/- Post Office, Yangan Q 4371

Ph: 07 4664 8383 / M: 0432 022 043

> READ MORE on the Queensland situation
Us and Them — The End Game?  by Maria Taylor

 

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Carnage of native birds and animals on Hamilton Island, called “management”

There’s a dark and bloody side of the Whitsunday’s, Hamilton Island!  What’s meant to be a dream, an idyllic dream island, of relaxation and luxury, has been exposed.  Some of the feathered and four-footed native residents are being slaughtered because some of the tourists and residents are not “safe” from native species such as the Agile Walllabies and overly-friendly cockatoos!

800px-hamilton_island_whitsundays_1_australia

(image: Hamilton Island, an natural holiday resort where not all the natives are welcome!)

From November 2014 to May 2016, permits to kill native animals on Hamilton Island allowed for 393 agile wallabies, 599 common brushtail possums, 35 sulphur crested cockatoos, 36 pied currawongs, three torresian crows, and one laughing kookaburra to be destroyed. The permits were for the “ongoing management of some wildlife species to prevent unacceptable levels of damage, and to protect public safety at the airport and in the resort itself”.

So native birds and animals are now a “safety” threat to the resort itself! On the contrary, the “resort” has been imposed onto the habitats, and that itself is a threat!
The sulphur-crested cockatoos are famously friendly, as seen in singer Taylor Swift’s tweets during her visit to the island last year. But 35 of the birds have been killed in the past 18 months, along with 36 pied currawongs and a kookaburra. Sulphur-crested cockatoos and possums could harass guests — removing food off plates and tables at outdoor eating areas. So, these tourists only come to see sterile and controlled, artificial resorts, with any ad hoc visitors and unwanted inhabitant shot and killed!

Sulphur crested cockatoos are a much-photographed native species on the island, known for their mostly friendly interactions with holidaymakers. “Sulphur crested cockatoos are resident on the Island but some birds become used to human contact and scavenge for human food sources and become aggressive (this is called habituation),” a statement read.  Aggressive cockatoos?

Rochelle Steven from Birdlife Australia said killing birds was a drastic move.

The resort island’s managers have Queensland Government permission to kill an unrestricted number of agile wallabies, which were introduced to Hamilton in the 1970s. Between November 2014 and May 2016, 393 agile wallabies were shot dead.

In another clanger, a statement from Environment Heritage Protection said that “Agile wallabies are not native to Hamilton Island and their numbers have exploded since their introduction in the 1970s.” Neither are non-Indigenous humans, or resorts! Seems that other legitimate animals also are not part of the “environment” or “heritage” – in an Orwellian contradictory titles.

Hamilton Island chief executive Glenn Bourke, stated that introduced species such as the agile wallaby caused “unsustainable damage” to the island and the resort’s facilities. How do agile wallabies come to be “introduced’ species when they are Australian native animals? So, no flying or swimming animals, or human, have a right to be there?

 Nearly 600 brushtail possums were eradicated in the same time period, but Queensland’s Environment Department allows up to 5,000 to be killed over three years.

More than 70 percent of the Island remains preserved as natural bushland, even though it is the largest resort island in the Whitsundays. The Island and surrounds are home to a unique and beautiful array of flora, fauna, birds, mammals, and reptiles. The tourist spin advertises the island’s natural features, but then kills off any interaction with visitors?

agilewallaby

(image: Agile wallaby – considered to be an “introduced” species!)

Planning approvals are in place to develop neighbouring Dent Island and we are looking at potential residences on the island, including an apartment complex, a luxury hotel and exclusive home enclave.

Dent Island currently houses the 18-hole championship Hamilton Island Golf Club, a $30 million investment designed by Peter Thomson, arguably Australia’s greatest golfer, and which opened in 2009.

The Island has substantial infrastructure in place, including a $1.8 million pipeline installed between Hamilton Island and Dent Island to supply power, water and utilities to the Golf Club.

No doubt with property developers and tourist operators relishing in $ in tourist dollars, any unwanted native guests will continue to be lethally “managed” to prevent threats to “property and tourists”!

Add your comments on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/hamiltonisland/

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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.
Queensland-landclearing
(image: Recent increases in land clearing threaten Queensland’s biodiversity http://theconversation.com/land-clearing-in-queensland-triples-after-policy-ping-pong-38279)

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.

yellow-bellied-glider2
(image: yellow-bellied glider from web page http://www.endangered-animals.com.au/yellow-bellied-glider.htm)

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.

Petitions:
https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/feed-our-native-wildlife-not-more-cattle

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Meat-eating rainbow lorikeets?

A Brisbane professor conducting the world’s first study into meat-eating rainbow lorikeets says he is shocked to discover more species of herbivorous birds are also changing their diets.

rainbow-lorikeet

ABC revealed a population of rainbow lorikeets were eating meat from a backyard feeding station on a property at Elimbah, north of Brisbane. Griffith University’s Professor Darryl Jones is shocked. He said lorikeets usually eat nectar and pollen which they obtain from native plants and shrubs.

Lorikeets typically feed on nectar and pollen and only require a small amount of protein from an occasional insect.

At this stage, no ill-effects have been documented. Along with rainbow lorikeets, eastern and crimson galahs and cockatoos have also been spotted eating meat.

“I have researched what birds feed on all around the world,” Professor Jones said. “I’m up to date with all the kinds of crazy things that birds are eating all over Australia. To see a lorikeet eating meat astonishes me completely. I have never heard of such a thing before.”

“The move for a bird that normally eats pollen and nectar to eating primarily meat is absolutely extraordinary,”
he said. “It is of international significance, this is a truly large and major project that we’ve got on here.”

Bill, who owns the Elimbah property, has put out pets mince for magpies, currawongs and kookaburras. He also puts out seed for vegetarian birds like galahs, king parrots and the lorikeets. The birds are spoilt for choice when it comes to food! “At first they went for the seed but then they started chasing the other birds away from the meat, which surprised me,” he said.

“It makes no sense at all” said Professor Jones. “The Lorikeets are chasing magpies and kookaburras away from the meat”. He said the lorikeet population had increased dramatically in south-east Queensland in the past decade. Lorikeets are also being fed by thousands of Queenslanders in backyard feeders. So, they are not adapting to deprivation, or survival!

Professor Darryl Jones would like to hear from anyone who has observed lorikeets eating meat. “We also really want to find out whether it’s a harmful practice because it’s (backyard feeding) very widespread”.

“If it’s harmful for the birds, then everyone needs to know that.”

He can be reached at d.jones@griffith.edu.au

(featured image: OzAnimals.com )

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