Category Archives: Features

Who will represent you?

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Know your choices.

Whether it’s the environment or the economy, the fragile state of our ecosystems or public health and safety, we all have our own concerns and are clear about what is critically important to ourselves and our families.

But it’s not always so easy to be clear about who in Parliament will best support us, or to navigate the voting system to ensure our vote goes where we want it to.

Knowing our choices.

Together with two of our Alliance partners, Australian Wildlife Protection Council and Australian Wildlife Society, RVOTDS sought feedback on party commitments pertaining to wildlife protection, habitat preservation and fire management (and therefore, regional Australia’s health and prosperity) from a number of political parties.

Based on responses received, previous track records and published policies, a summary table of their position is here: Policies and Progress PDF

RVOTDS notes the commitments by Reason Party, Animal Justice Party, The Greens, and Sustainable Australia Party, to protecting our precious native wildlife and natural environments.

We hold cautious optimism for some others also, including TNL (formerly “The New Liberals”) who are calling for a strong ICAC, climate action and ending recreational killing of native wildlife.

Here is a link to help identify who is in the running to represent you in each of the two houses: lower (House of Representatives) and lower down the link, upper (Senate).

Click here to see who you can vote for in YOUR electorate.

Making sure our vote goes where we want it to

Your preferences could be very important.

To control where your vote ends up, consider numbering as many of your preferences as you can (6 may not be enough), so it’s worth knowing a bit about the choices in advance.give your vote more teethCartoon provided by one of our valued supporters.

Some links related to the questions submitted to political parties:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/native-species-are-in-crisis-but-you-wouldn-t-know-it-from-the-election-campaign-20220505-p5air2.html

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2022/03/landlocked-kangaroos-trapped-by-urban-sprawl-have-nowhere-left-to-go/

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Victoria’s ‘progressive’ Labor government again greenlights bird cruelty, regional loss of tourism

Wood-duck_courtesy of Eleanor Dilley_RVOTDS

DESPITE INCREASING NUMBERS of Victorians demanding an end to it, another recreational native bird shoot has been approved in Victoria, causing outrage around the state.

ABOVE: Wood Duck, photo courtesy Eleanor Dilley.

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc (RVOTDS) say the Saturday announcement seems a “pretty gutless” attempt to keep the unpopular announcement under the radar.

Announced Saturday February 26, the bird shoot will start March 16 and run for “three long months”, 25% of the year, at “so many thousands of public lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, waterways and reservoirs that no government authority has been able to estimate whether they number closer to 8,000 or 15,000, let alone signpost or monitor them”. Many shooting areas are near family homes, and most are near other recreational users.

“The Andrews government has again shown it is more concerned with a minority group of bird shooters, than regional residents and businesses” a spokesperson for RVOTDS said.

No social / economic impact studies have ever been done on anyone other than a small group of shooters. No cost-benefit analysis has been done to account for the cost to Victorians of compliance monitoring, or lost tourism, of stock being sent through fences or the inability to work from home because of shooting. Most local businesses will tell you — duck shooting does not bring the bucks. The government’s — or should we say shooters’ — propaganda is just that — propaganda to try and justify an unpopular destructive activity.”

“We challenge Mr. Andrews to bring his family to stay by a waterway in regional Victoria between March 16 and June 13. It’s time he experienced the carnage he condones.”

Ongoing polls* show most Victorians — particularly regional — want duck shooting banned. Less than half of one percent of the population take part in this pastime which other states banned long ago due to cruelty. 

At least one-in-four of the tens of thousands of birds shot each season are wounded only, flapping off to die slow painful deaths elsewhere. In fact, Game Management Authority put it at one-in-three — not that they’re doing much about it. If this cruelty happened in an abattoir it would be shut down”.

In an election year, questions hang in the community about whether the major parties are listening to constituents or favoring the whims of their financial donors.

“When our rural communities are crying out for opportunities to benefit from the booming trend of nature-based tourism which is hampered by shooting, stuck in the fifties is where this government is leaving us. Victorians deserve better.”

LINK > RVOTDS WEBSITE

*Recent polls include UComms January 2021 and RSPCA’s poll.

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Critical state of biodiversity health

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2021 AWPC President’s Report to membership

I WOULD LIKE to start by thanking the dedicated AWPC committee and members for their contribution in what has been a very difficult two years since my presidency commenced and for all Australian species, in seas and oceans, in the sky and on the land.

In the two years I have been privileged to be President of the AWPC in Australia, three billion native animals are estimated to have died in catastrophic fires, ten million Kangaroos and their young have been killed in the most cruel and disgraceful circumstances and authorities to kill wildlife have been issued by state and territory governments in vast numbers and for a staggering array of species. Hardly a success story, but I take comfort from a knowledgeable colleague in Canberra who says “the very worst thing would be to stop trying”. And tried we have, each and every one.

The AWPC committee and AWPC members have engaged in the following activities in support of Australian wildlife:

  • education and advocacy including submissions to politicians, particularly in Victoria and in the ACT and federally in regard to the escalating killing of kangaroos, biodiversity loss and policy, the plight of Australian birdlife, particularly duck shooting;
  • highlighting the plight of wildlife carers;
  • campaigns from NSW focusing on the use of native wildlife as petfood and co-existing with wildlife;
  • supporting state-based wildlife groups whether on behalf of kangaroo species including support with content for Kangaroos Alive on World Kangaroo Day;
  • providing information to community wildlife groups; and
  • liaison and support for international wildlife campaigns and organisations such as the Centre for Humane Economy in the United States.

We also thank our numerous partner organisations and are particularly proud of our part in the development of the International Kangaroo Protection Alliance, a grouping of international experts connecting Europe, the Middle East, the United States and the Asia Pacific to inform governments about the consequences of the exploitation, cruelty and loss of Australian wildlife, in this case the growing number of species of Kangaroo and Wallaby now exploited for commercial gain.

Over the last two years I have done numerous media interviews, a majority on radio and many overseas.

Solutions to the serious nature of extreme biodiversity loss in Australia

There is no sugar-coating of what is occurring in Australia and things have become continually worst, regardless of our efforts to slow the destruction of biodiversity. Conduct in relation to climate change is an exact parallel.

The best things we can do are:

  • to inform the public of what is occurring and what the consequences of the loss of biodiversity are, including directly to the people who live in this country;
  • to properly inform Indigenous people in Australia — who are subject to black-washing in Australia by governments and industry who are exploiting biodiversity in Australia — about the scope and scale of the destruction to their lands and species;
  • to motivate young people to take biodiversity loss as seriously as they now take climate change, the two are one in terms of their impacts on human futures;
  • to encourage those individuals with large land holdings in Australia, particularly farmers, to use modern methods of farming which include biodiversity in the landscape;
  • to finally put an end to the disgraceful and commercial exploitation of land-based Australian wildlife;
  • to think carefully about land clearing practices in Australia, which remain at scale and are intensely damaging to biodiversity and do little for economic development;
  • to look closely at increasingly silly fire mitigation practices in Australia which include burning-off at vast scale, leaving fires to burn which eventually become fire storms, to stop burning tropical wet forests (driven by financial gain and silly carbon mitigation practices) that destroy the wet tropics and create environments that are now at extreme risk of catastrophic fires;
  • to engage and inform the general public to respect those things that are Australian and have evolved here, it is beginning to happen for the plant kingdom so it can happen for fauna as well;
  • to protect the integrity of research at Australian Universities to ensure it is independent and free from influence (sadly the most important courses in major Australian Universities are being closed, this is no accident);
  • to make governments accountable for their actions; and
  • to internationalise the fight to protect Australia’s precious species.

If we don’t do these things, and fast, there will be nothing. In the end it can only be up to us, and that is everyone, and everywhere.

The AWPC and government submissions

The AWPC has had an intensive period of advocating for wildlife including submission, meetings and sometimes appearances at government inquiries, work taking hundreds of hours of research and authorship as well as sharing of knowledge to politicians and their staff and moral support of witnesses. This work remains an important part of AWPC’s contribution to wildlife conservation and survival in Australia.

We have contributed to the following inquiries during my time as President:

  • Inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in New South Wales.
  • Victoria’s Wildlife Act Review.
  • Victoria’s biodiversity loss inquiry.
  • Victorian Auditor’s Ramsar inquiry.
  • Inquiry into the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (joint submission).
  • AgriFutures: National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the way the AWPC and its committee and members were treated by this organisation can only be described as disgraceful).

The role of Governments in Australia in enabling and promoting the mass killing of Australian native species for commercial gain, sport and recreation and ‘mitigation’.

Australian mammal and bird species are in the front line of government-enabled killing activities. Australian fauna has few friends in government, all major parties are engaged in enabling its destruction. Typically governments apply the same tactics as each other to enable the mass killing of wildlife involving misleading and inaccurate information. This is a general rule, with a few exceptions, the individuals defending and caring for Australia’s wildlife are not paid for their immensely hard work and contingent suffering, while those exploiting wildlife commercially or promoting and enabling the numerous wildlife killing activities around the Australian Continent are paid handsomely for their grim conduct. This conduct is increasingly secretive (because it is so bad and they know it) while the pretence is for increasing transparency.

As I reported last year the aggressive actions by all Australian Governments in enabling the large scale killing of wildlife is and has occurred despite the catastrophic fires of the 2019–20 summer and these activities are further contributing to regional extinctions and species endangerment. As before, government actions against native species are creating significant expenditures for taxpayers who are funding the enabling of and marketing of the acceptability of the killing, a process which further demeans the Australian species being targeted.

A classic example of government conduct promoting and enabling the killing of wildlife was my visit to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to meet politicians in Canberra regarding the killing of Kangaroos in the territory’s parks and reserves. I visited the ACT Legislative Assembly with leading wildlife experts and concerned individuals to meet with Greens MP Jo Clay and her staff.

Among other things Jo is the spokesperson for ‘Active Travel and Road Safety, Planning, Parks and Conservation, Animal Welfare’. The Greens are now a powerful force in the ACT yet they remain determined killers of Kangaroos in the territory while the ACT’s Environment Minister, Rebecca Vassarotti, also a Green and defender of the killing and cruelty (based on nonsense) refused to see our group. So the killing of Kangaroos in the ACT went ahead again this year despite the vast array of evidence that shows it should not have occurred and despite the great loss of biodiversity in the ACT from climate-related fire storms. The Greens in the ACT have yet again been no friend to Australian wildlife, happily this has not been the case in NSW and Victoria where the Greens have been very supportive of efforts to safeguard the future of Australian species.

While the general assumption is that Liberal and National Coalition Governments are the worst when it comes to protection of wildlife, Labor can surprisingly be worse, as has been the case in Victoria since 2014. The Queensland Government is also particularly terrible. My advice to the national leadership of the Labor Party, and particularly Anthony Albanese, is to take a very close look at what is being done to the natural world in states where Labor is in power and to look carefully at those parts of the public service that are promoting and enabling the mass killing activities within those states.

Cruelty to wildlife

There is no doubt in my mind that the conduct of governments in Australia contributes to the ‘entitlement’ of those harming wildlife, either believing theirs is a valid cause or giving them the confidence that the most extreme acts of cruelty will never be investigated or prosecuted.

Again a top-line example here is what is being done to Kangaroo and Wallaby species in Australia. An update to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) was released on Wednesday 18 November 2020. The protections for Kangaroos were further weakened by this update.

The purpose of these codes of practice in relation to Kangaroos in Australia are twofold:

  • To legitimise extreme acts of cruelty which would otherwise be illegal by negating animal cruelty legislation; and
  • To create the impression for consumers, particularly overseas consumers, that Australia’s trade in wildlife, in this case members of the Kangaroo family, is humane and is closely managed for compliance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Governance standards relating to wildlife

We note a general lack of compliance inspection activities in relation to killing of wildlife while governments, both politicians and public servants, claim the opposite in their correspondence with those raising concerns about what is being done to wildlife generally or individuals reporting actual crimes against wildlife and related activity.

While incorrect claims continue to be made by governments regarding compliance matters, sustainability and animal welfare standards and cruelty, and Victoria is an example, complex inter departmental and agency structures are deliberately created to diffuse accountability and responsibility for what are extreme acts of cruelty, lack of compliance and highly dubious and likely inaccurate constructs on which decisions are based, making it impossible for complainants and wildlife experts to improve the situation for wildlife.

Commercial trade in wildlife in Australia

The issues created by the commercial trade in wildlife and the horrors associated with it are starkly revealed by the New South Wales Government Inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in New South Wales. I suggest you read the report (the draft of which was heavily amended by the Coalition Government and Labor) as well as reading the transcripts and submissions.

In Victoria the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos includes the following facts:

  • Much of the commercial killing is occurring on land that is not farmed — Dunkeld is a classic example of this;
  • The killing rate of Kangaroo species subject to commercial exploitation has near tripled since the introduction of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial in 2014 — this is completely unsustainable;
  • Claims that for 2021 that the population of Grey Kangaroos in the State had increased by 41 percent are not credible, nor possible;
  • Commercial permits in Victoria for killing Kangaroos — the Victorian Government’s own authorisation to shooters based on which commercial wildlife licenses are issued Conditions of Authorisation under section 28A of the Wildlife Act 1975, to hunt, take, destroy, possess, dispose of and sell Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos in accordance with the approved Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021–2023 clearly states that “Kangaroos with obvious dependent young must not be shot”. The last figures I have from DELWP, which are recent show that 30 percent of the Kangaroos killed for commercial purposes are now female and in a recent period 14,000 females have been killed resulting in the death of 13,800 joeys (so this destroys three generations of Kangaroos in one go, how is this sustainable?). This also says a great deal about the standards of governance in Victoria, total lack of any compliance and action resulting in clear breaches of the regulations; and
  • For the government to suggest what is done to Kangaroos is humane is nonsense, the global Internet is full of the most heinous images of commercial and non-commercial shooters abusing Kangaroos and these images are available to governments around the world, some of which are now taking action to ban Kangaroo products, in the case of the United States, this is occurring purely on grounds of EXTREME cruelty.

Each state has precisely the same issues. My view is that South Australia is the worst of an extremely bad bunch when it comes to the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos, the state also has a catastrophic record of native species loss and endangerment.

My view is that there are at least three species in the Macropod family that are being exploited commercially that should be on the threatened species list, these are from South Australia, the Sooty Kangaroo and Tammar Wallaby from Kangaroo Island and the Forester Kangaroo in Tasmania. To go after these species commercially demonstrates just how shockingly poor the standards are in terms of safeguarding the future of Australian wildlife.

Australian Birdlife

Regardless of climate conditions and significant declines in waterbird populations, the mass killing of birdlife continues. In Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria this year the killing of waterbirds continued despite COVID and the objections of the vast majority of residents who want the killing to stop.

In the Northern Territory (NT) the Magpie geese and waterfowl season commenced on private land on 16 August and on public land on 22 September. The killing will finally stop for the season on 10 January 2022. Waterbird species being killed this year in the NT are the Magpie goose, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead duck, Wood Duck, Wandering Whistling Duck and Pink-eared Duck. The collateral damage to other species of these activities is also substantial. On a personal note to say I spend a lot of time in the NT in places and with cultures I love, so in relation to wildlife I have a very good understanding of how things have changed over a long period of time, my assessment of what has occurred in not positive.

The other states, (while pretending they have no mass killing events relating to waterbirds) and here NSW is a classic example, where the following duck species are shot for sport (and ‘mitigation’) and often in large numbers and on private land, Australian Shelduck, Australian Wood Duck, Black Duck, Blue-winged Shoveler, Chestnut Teal, Grass Whistling Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead Duck, Pink-eared Duck and Water Whistling Duck.

We should not forget the mass killing of native quail species for recreation, typically in those states with a duck shooting season encompassing public lands.

Ramsar sites

The state of Ramsar sites in Australia can be appalling, littered with rubbish, parts of dead birds, shot and associated gun waste, plastic and alcohol containers. Meanwhile in the ‘official’ bird-shooting states and territories the prime economic benefit of Ramsar sites is not being achieved, these things are tourism, nature-based tourism including the international circuit of twitchers and those interested in wildlife and other non-violent recreational activities. These alternate uses have a much greater regional benefit than 12-week seasons of bird shooting. I dislike visiting these places at any time of year because of what we know goes on there.

Killing of Australian wildlife in National and State Parks

I have become increasingly concerned about the number of native animals being killed by environment departments on public lands and wildlife rescues being blocked by public servants in times of natural crisis, particularly fires, all of it amid claims of overabundance. Nonsense of course and what we are doing here is softening the ground for commercial exploitation of wildlife in State and National Parks. Victoria and the ACT are leaders in this game. In Victoria the numbers of native animals being killed by government departments, and for dubious reasons, are staggering.

Australia wildlife now in the food supply chain of zoos, both in Australia and internationally

When zoos are asking the public to donate to them because they care about Australian wildlife, little does the public suspect that zoos too are now complicit in the commercial exploitation of a growing number of Australian species. Kangaroos and Wallabies are in the frontline here.

If zoo food and petfood were not a poorly enough thought through end for Australian wildlife, the Victorian Government knows no bounds to its creativity in destroying and exploiting wildlife, introducing Kangaroo meat for preschool children on its recommended lunch menu, and doing so in a time of a zoonotic pandemic. Given China’s and Russia’s well researched concerns about the health consequences of consuming Australia’s native wildlife, one would expect Victoria’s young people deserve something better.

Exclusion fencing and Australian wildlife

Australian wildlife has fewer and fewer places to exist. Publicly funded and often vast areas of wildlife-proof fencing, some designed explicitly for entrapment, are now commonplace. These horrific fences, many at tax payers expense, are now everywhere in places you might expect to be free of them, parts of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula are one such example. These fences disrupt wildlife movements, deny access to water and food and allow the unscrupulous to shoot or run-down wildlife on mass as animals are trapped along fence lines. It is extraordinary that departments of environment encourage their construction as a way to exclude wildlife.

Rapid growth of commercial wildlife trade between Australian states and territories as wildlife exterminated in some mainland regions

Are we emptying Tasmania of its Wallabies? The answer is probably yes unless we stop a growing trend of mainland-driven commercial exploitation of Tasmanian species.

An example of what goes on is the impact just this one commercial wildlife processing plant development would have.

Some very troubling news from Central Victoria in September 2021 suggested that a local meat works wanted to open up a Kangaroo processing facility, that would, when fully operational, process 2,000 Kangaroos each week. That is 104,000 Kangaroos in one year.

In 2021, the entire commercial trade in wildlife quota for Kangaroos in Victoria this year is 95,680. So just one of a number of Kangaroo meat processing plants in Victoria, plans to process more than the quota for the whole state.

Even using the government’s inflated population numbers for the shire where the plant will be located, the entire commercial quota for that shire would be consumed in just over a week. The expectation would be that Kangaroo carcasses would be imported from elsewhere in Victoria and neighbouring states.

NSW, as its Kangaroo populations plummet, appears to be, and quietly so, importing large numbers of Wallabies from Tasmania.

Use of authorities to control wildlife

Permission to kill Australian wildlife are issued on request and are issued at scale and with increasingly lax consideration of reasons. Our view is that no, or very few, applications are refused and almost no follow-ups occur while the pretence is that Australian wildlife is protected. Here is an example of what is on the Australian kill list:

Method of killing in Victoria as recommended and authorised by the Victorian Government listed in italic after the name (supplied DELWP 25/2/2020)

  1. Australian Fur Seal — shoot
  2. Australian King-parrot — shoot
  3. Australian Magpie — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  4. Australian Magpie Lark — shoot, trap gas
  5. Australian Pelican — shoot
  6. Australian Raven — shoot
  7. Australian Shelduck — shoot
  8. Australian White Ibis — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  9. Bell Miner — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  10. Black Kite — shoot
  11. Black Swan — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  12. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike — shoot
  13. Black-tailed Native-hen — shoot
  14. Brown Antechinus — trap gas
  15. Brown Goshawk — shoot, trap shoot
  16. Bush Rat — trap gas
  17. Cape Barren Goose — shoot
  18. Chestnut Teal — shoot
  19. Brushtail Possum — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  20. Ringtail Possum — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  21. Bare-nosed Wombat — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  22. Copperhead — shoot
  23. Crimson Rosella — shoot
  24. Dingo — shoot, trap shoot, poison
  25. Dusky Moorhen — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  26. Eastern Brown Snake — shoot
  27. Eastern Grey Kangaroo — shoot
  28. Eastern Rosella — shoot
  29. Emu — shoot (this is a particularly gruesome and cruel activity)
  30. Eurasian Coot — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  31. Fairy Martin — destroy eggs and nest
  32. Galah — shoot, trap gas
  33. Great Cormorant — shoot
  34. Grey Butcherbird — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  35. Grey Teal — shoot
  36. Grey-headed Flying-fox — shoot
  37. Hardhead — shoot
  38. Highland Copperhead — shoot
  39. Koala — secretly euthanised with Ministerial permission
  40. Laughing Kookaburra — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  41. Little Black Cormorant — shoot
  42. Little Corella — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  43. Little Crow — shoot
  44. Little Lorikeet — shoot
  45. Little Pied Cormorant — shoot
  46. Little Raven — shoot
  47. Little Red Flying-fox — shoot
  48. Little Wattlebird — shoot
  49. Long-billed Corella — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  50. Magpie Goose — shoot
  51. Mallee Ringneck — shoot
  52. Maned Duck — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  53. Masked Lapwing — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  54. Musk Lorikeet — shoot
  55. Noisy Friarbird — shoot
  56. Noisy Miner — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  57. Pacific Black Duck — shoot
  58. Pacific Heron — shoot
  59. Pied Currawong — shoot
  60. Pink-eared Duck — shoot
  61. Plumed Whistling-duck — shoot
  62. Purple Swamphen — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  63. Purple-crowned Lorikeet — shoot
  64. Rainbow Lorikeet — shoot
  65. Red Kangaroo — shoot
  66. Red Wattlebird — shoot
  67. Red-bellied Black Snake — shoot
  68. Red-necked Wallaby — shoot
  69. Red-rumped Parrot — shoot
  70. Richard’s Pipit — shoot
  71. Rufous Night Heron — shoot
  72. Satin Bowerbird — shoot
  73. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet — shoot
  74. Silver Gull — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  75. Silvereye — shoot
  76. Straw-necked Ibis — shoot
  77. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo — shoot, trap gas
  78. Swamp Rat — trap gas
  79. Swamp Wallaby — shoot
  80. Tammar Wallaby — shoot (curious indeed, SA mainland species thought extinct until recently)
  81. Tiger Snake — shoot
  82. Water Rat — shoot, trap gas
  83. Welcome Swallow — shoot, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  84. Western Brown Snake — shoot
  85. Western Grey Kangaroo — shoot
  86. White-faced Heron — shoot
  87. White-winged Chough — shoot, trap gas
  88. Yellow Rosella — shoot
  89. Yellow-faced Honeyeater — shoot
  90. Yellow-footed Antechinus — trap and gas
  91. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo — shoot
  92. Yellow-throated Miner — shoot.

The list and number of wildlife to be ‘controlled’ in Victoria are greater than those shown above (which are all on the kill list). It should be noted that within the government tables that provide this information there is an UNSPECIFIED category, which according to the environment department, means scare. While the UNSPECIFIED category has been applied as an alternative in the government table and to many of the species above, there is little evidence, and the department has not been able to provide any, that scaring is an option that is much used for those species listed above (flying foxes and a couple of bird species aside). The bullet is by far the most favoured method of ‘control’.

Climate change and Australia

We all already know too much about COP26 and what happened there. So what do Australian GHG emissions really look like? Having a good sense of what is actually happening is so important to the future of Australia’s biodiversity. I would like you all to think about the Great Barrier Reef as an indicator of how poorly Australia’s biodiversity is factored into the Australian Government’s attitudes to climate change and its impacts, which for Australian species is profound.

For an understanding of what the situation looked like pre-COVID, the Australian Greenhouse Gas Inventory suggests that in 2019 total (all sectors) GHG emissions fell by 0.9 percent compared with 2018, these emissions should fall by 7.6 percent on average each year over 2020 to 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over the period. Here are our main comments:

  • Renewable energy’s share of electricity emissions was the main reason for lower emissions, with black coal generation falling in the fourth quarter of 2019. To the lowest level in three years. New South Wales sourced 19 percent of electricity generation from renewables, Victoria 23 percent. Share has continued to increase to 2021.
  • The 2019 drop, however, was much less than required to meet Paris Accord targets.
  • In 2020 the trend is to lower electricity consumption as Covid-19 impacts became evident and also for lower liquid fuels for transport.
  • Demand has grown at an annual average of 3.7 percent per annum, so would be 50 percent higher in 2030 than today. To reach climate change targets all the new capacity would have to be fossil free. Trends have been moderated by COVID lockdowns including a reduction in demand of around 10 percent in the City of Melbourne, while demand in the outer suburbs of Melbourne has increased. High levels of solar uptake will continue to reduce demand for fossil fuel generated electricity as will the collapse in migration during the COVID period.
  • AEMO, in an April 2020 study, reported that the main electricity grid could accommodate up to 75 percent renewables by 2025 if the system were effectively transformed and managed. Without actions to ensure grid stability, wind and solar generation would have to be curtailed (not accepted into the grid) by 50 to 60 percent of their potential contribution. This would threaten the viability of wind and solar projects.
  • Fuel efficiency standards are urgently needed in Australia but are being resisted by the Federal Government. Australian transport sector emissions now account for about 18 percent of total national emissions, but the transport sector lacks any real climate change policy action. In its 2020 annual report, the National Transport Commission found the average new car emissions were just 0.2 percent lower than 2018. This level trails that of most developed countries. Recent media suggests that Australia is now becoming the dumping ground for higher emitting vehicles which would be illegal in other countries.
  • Apart from electricity sub-sector emissions, which are reducing due to renewables (wind and solar) penetrations, emissions are rising in non-electricity stationary, transport, fugitives, industrial processes, agriculture and waste sub-sectors where there are virtually no policies or programs addressing emission reductions apart from the A$3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund mainly directed at agriculture, land-use/land-use change and forestry.
  • The bushfires across Australia in 4Q 2019 and 1Q 2020 likely caused emissions to reach almost double 2019 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory measured emissions but are not included in the inventory as it is assumed that regrowth sequesters these emissions. Given the catastrophic nature of what occurred this is extremely unlikely.
  • If Australian fossil fuel exports were factored into Australia’s emissions, its contribution to global emissions would be in the region of 3.5–4 percent rather than 1.3 percent. This would make Australia the world’s sixth-largest contributor to climate change, by far the highest per capita emissions on Earth. Hard to measure, our view remains that fugitive emissions (particularly Methane) from fossil fuel production, including coal, remain significantly understated in Australia’s reporting systems and may have a significant impact on total emissions from this continent.

We all live in this world and we should have the basic sense to look after it.

— Peter Hylands
President, Australian Wildlife Protection Council

November 2021

IMAGERY: Habitat loss and climate extremes contributing to loss of diversity of native Australian wildlife.

 

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Mass destruction of Native Wildlife is imminent in Sydney

Alert-land-clearance-PennantHillsNSW

A PLEA FOR HELP WITH URBAN COEXISTENCE … updates

I thought you might like to hear that Mirvac contacted residents [mid-November] and they have backed down from their plans to start demolition works this November. They have instead said that they will not start tree felling until 2022 … a win for the community! And certainly a win for the wildlife that is presently breeding in the forest at Coonara Avenue. We are all very pleased. 

I updated my petition and want to thank everyone who signed it and shared it to support our cause. 

It just goes to show that you can never underestimate the strength we all have when we work together!!

 

Thanks so much for your concern and support — it really helped.

Mirvac-montage-Oct-2021

We had a great turnout given the short notice and about 35 people attended from all different community groups and political parties. The rally was truly bipartisan and we had representatives from The Greens, Labor, AJP etc. In particular, Cate Faehrmann MP did a live Facebook feed and highlighted our request for MIRVAC to do the right thing and delay demolition works until after the wildlife has had time to finish raising their young. 

There was lots of community support from the cars going past tooting at us!!

The great turnout shows how strongly everyone feels about the timing of these works. If Mirvac really do care — as they say they do!! — what is the harm in waiting a few weeks longer to give the babies more chance to survive?

I have attached some photos, above, for you to see how we went. Thanks for trying — we appreciate it. 

 

Katrina Emmett, I Nov 2021

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FOR A NUMBER of years, there has been a passionate campaign by the local community in West Pennant Hills, Sydney to save a very special and unique area at 55 Coonara Avenue. The site is one of the Priority Management sites under the NSW Save our Species Scheme and is adjacent to the Cumberland State Forest.

The area contains Critically Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC’s) and is a breeding ground for the Powerful Owl and the Dural Land Snail which are both threatened species. The area is also home to hundreds of other animals including, but not limited to: microbats, possums and gliders, snakes, lizards, echidnas and birds of all shapes and sizes.

Residents of the Hills District cannot believe that further destruction of this scale can be approved. Pandemic rush for development sets up clearing of rich biodiversity and critically-endangered species.

For many, many years the site has been a Business Park for IBM, but MIRVAC acquired the site and applied to have the area rezoned to Residential. This application was REJECTED by Hills Shire Council in November 2019.

When COVID happened, council’s decision was sadly overturned by State Government under it’s Fast Track Assessment COVID Programme.

1,253 trees, habitat and biodiversity face demolition

On Wednesday 15 September, MIRVAC finally got approval for demolition and clearing of 1,253 trees from the site as the first stage in its Master Development Plan. This will be absolutely devastating for the forest and all the native wildlife that have called this area home for many decades.

Of the 1,253 to be removed, over 450 are Critically Endangered Blue Gum High Forest (BGHF) and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest. Current statistics reveal less than 140 hectares of BGHF is left in the world.

The biodiversity of flora and fauna in the area is amazing and considering Australia’s extinction record and the diabolical loss of habitat and wildlife in last year’s violent bushfires, the residents of the Hills District cannot believe that further destruction of this scale can be approved.

The residents say the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to power through development applications when the development is not required or supported by locals and Council.

The approval for Demolition and Clearing has been given from 1 October 2021 so MIRVAC can go in and start work anytime.

The only provisions in the Conditions of the DA relate to tree hollows and the threatened species, including some surveying of the microbats in the existing structures. However, there are no provisions for any ground dwelling animals or birds that nest in the tree canopies. How can this be acceptable? Especially during critical Spring Breeding time?!

Local groups have reached out for support in writing to the Councillors, Federal and State Environment Ministers and the media to get the demolition and clearing delayed until after Spring when the baby animals will have fledged and/or be more independent. The least MIRVAC can do is delay their destruction until Spring is over to avoid decimating two generations of our wildlife, instead of just one!!

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I have written to everyone … but now the politicians seem to have their hands full hanging onto their jobs.

I have sent the petition to the following decision makers:

Penny Sharpe, Shadow Environment Minister:
penny.sharpe@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Matt Kean, Environment Minister:
hornsby@parliament.nsw.gov.au             

David Elliott, Local Member:
baulkhamhills@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Rob Stokes, Planning Minister
pittwater@parliament.nsw.gov.au 

Michelle Byrne, Hills Council Mayor: 
mayor@thehills.nsw.gov.au

Cate Faehrmann, Greens Spokesperson on Environment:   cate.faehrmann@parliament.nsw.gov.au           

WIRES:
media@wires.org.au
      

— Thanks, let’s hope our campaign doesn’t get lost in all the turmoil. 

 

 

 

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Climate change and biodiversity loss, solutions needed

Grey_headed_flying_fox_with_pup_AndrewMercer_wikipedia-CC-by-SA-4.0

THE HEATWAVES NORTH America is currently experiencing and our own “hottest on record” [1] 2019–20 summer indicates extreme heat events will become frequent. In 2019 tens of thousands of native Grey-headed flying foxes died and the Spectacled flying fox lost a third of its total population in 44C heat. [2]   

IMAGE: Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) with her pup in Brisbane’s Roma Street Parklands. By Andrew Mercer, Wikipedia. CC By-SA 4.0 

We will see 46–50C days soon, and when we do, one of the engines of our forests, the pollinating flying foxes that service over 100 species of native trees and plants, will die. Entire colonies will be wiped out. Bat conservationists are calling on the Federal Department of Environment Minister, the Hon. Sussan Ley, to aid the installation of cooling sprayers in every flying fox camp listed by her department as being of national importance [3]. In extreme heat colony cooling is the only intervention that will save sufficient numbers of flying foxes to regenerate and maintain ecosystems.  

There are at least 100 flying fox camps in eastern Australia that need sprayers and at a cost of around $250,000 or less, per camp, this would equate to about $25 million. A paltry sum to save carbon-sequestering (forest building) long distance out-cross pollinators and seed dispersers. These are the landscape-level ecosystems needed by the bees and insects that pollinate many agricultural crops. Bats mean business. It’s nearly as simple as that.   

Grey-headed and Spectacled flying fox populations [4] have already been decimated by starvation caused by land-clearing [5], bushfires and urban netting entanglements. Installing cooling systems in flying fox camps is something practical that will help Australian flying foxes survive:  

“The bat you see Melbourne today may be the same bat you see in Brisbane a month later — that’s how far they fly and they build forest all the way. But they can’t do it if they’re dead. Cooling camps makes sense — ecologically and bottom line.”  

[1]  Bureau of Meteorology, Australia Warming Graphic.png 

[2]  BBC News, How one Heatwave killed a Third of a Bat Species in Australia, Jan 15, 2019.

[3]  Nationally Important Camps of Grey-headed Flying-fox (Fed Dept of Environment). 

[4]  Both bat species are Federally Listed as Vulnerable to Extinction, Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

[5] Twenty three Queensland Spectacled flying fox camps have been destroyed since 1970s with forty still in existence (Pteropus Conspictillatus – Spectacled Flying fox – Recovery Plan, QLD Govt, Australian Govt 2010.

—  Lawrence Pope, Friends of Bats & Bushcare Inc. 

 

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