Category Archives: New South Wales

Some good news this Threatened Species Day (7 September)

Regent-honeyeater-via-BirdlifeAustralia

From:  Mick Roderick
— NSW Woodland Bird Program Manager here at BirdLife Australia.

TODAY, on National Threatened Species Day, we wanted to share with you some of our work bringing threatened species back from the brink with this special footage of our first large-scale Regent Honeyeater Release in NSW. In June, BirdLife Australia and our partners released 20 of these Critically Endangered birds into NSW’s Hunter Valley, into one of the largest remaining Regent Honeyeater strongholds.

Over the last few months, it’s been wonderful to observe captive birds interacting with wild birds. One of our transmitter birds led us to at least six wild Regents, and already four of these birds appeared to have paired up — a promising sign for spring!

Join us in celebrating with this special video we’ve put together.

For those that don’t know me, my name is Mick Roderick – and I’m the NSW Woodland Bird Program Manager here at BirdLife Australia.

Today, on National Threatened Species Day, we wanted to share with you some of our work bringing threatened species back from the brink with this special footage of our first large-scale Regent Honeyeater Release in NSW. In June, BirdLife Australia and our partners released 20 of these Critically Endangered birds into NSW’s Hunter Valley, into one of the largest remaining Regent Honeyeater strongholds.

Over the last few months, it’s been wonderful to observe captive birds interacting with wild birds. One of our transmitter birds led us to at least six wild Regents, and already four of these birds appeared to have paired up – a promising sign for spring!

Join us in celebrating with this special video we’ve put together.

Regent Honeyeaters are a ‘flagship species’ — so supporting them helps improve the status of other birds that share their habitat. When you help save one bird from extinction, other birds will follow. We hope this will be the first of many NSW releases, and with only a few hundred Regents left, these releases could mean the difference between extinction and survival.

Your voice can help us bring our precious birds back from the brink.

Right now we need your voice more than ever to ensure our national environment laws actually protect nature. Our Federal politicians are considering these laws right now, and they need to know that Australians from all walks of life care.

Can you help grow our campaign by sharing this video with your friends and family on social media?

IMAGERY: Author supplied.

 

Share This:

New research shows lyrebirds move more litter and soil than any other digging animal

SUPERB-LYREBIRD-crAlexMaisey

WHEN YOU THINK of lyrebirds, what comes to mind may be the sound of camera clicks, chainsaws and the songs of other birds. While the mimicry of lyrebirds is remarkable, it is not the only striking feature of this species.

ABOVE: Male Superb Lyrebird in display.  Alex Maisey, Author provided.

In research just published, we document the extraordinary changes that lyrebirds make to the ground layer in forests in their role as an ecosystem engineer.

Ecosystem engineers change the environment in ways that impact on other species. Without lyrebirds, eastern Australia’s forests would be vastly different places.

Male lyrebird in full tail display.  Alex Maisey

What is an ecosystem engineer?

Ecosystem engineers exist in many environments. By disturbing the soil, they create new habitats or alter existing habitats, in ways that affect other organisms, such as plants and fungi.

A well-known example is the beaver, in North America, which uses logs and mud to dam a stream and create a deep pond. In doing so, it changes the aquatic habitat for many species, including frogs, herons, fish and aquatic plants. Other examples include bandicoots and bettongs.

The Superb Lyrebird acts as an ecosystem engineer by its displacement of leaf litter and soil when foraging for food. Lyrebirds use their powerful claws to rake the forest floor, exposing bare earth and mixing and burying litter, while seeking invertebrate prey such as worms, centipedes and spiders.


Read more:
Our helicopter rescue may seem a lot of effort for a plain little bird, but it was worth it


To study the role of the lyrebird as an engineer, we carried out a two-year experiment in Victoria’s Central Highlands, with three experimental treatments.

First, a fenced treatment, where lyrebirds were excluded from fenced square plots measuring 3m wide.

Second, an identical fenced plot but in which we simulated lyrebird foraging with a three-pronged hand rake (about the width of a lyrebird’s foot). This mimicked soil disturbance by lyrebirds but without the birds eating the invertebrates that lived there.

The third treatment was an unfenced, open plot (of the same size) in which wild lyrebirds were free to forage as they pleased.

Over a two-year period, we tracked changes in the litter and soil, and measured the amount of soil displaced inside and outside of these plots.

A colour-banded female lyrebird in Sherbrooke Forest, Victoria. Her powerful claws are used for foraging in litter and soil.  Meghan Lindsay

Lyrebirds dig up a lot of dirt

On average, foraging by wild lyrebirds resulted in a staggering 155 tonnes per hectare of litter and soil displaced each year throughout these forests.

To the best of our knowledge, this is more than any other digging vertebrate, worldwide.

To put this in context, most digging vertebrates around the world, such as pocket gophers, moles, bandicoots and bettongs, displace between 10–20 tonnes of material per hectare, per year.

To picture what 155 tonnes of soil looks like, imagine the load carried by five medium-sized 30 tonne dump trucks — and this is just for one hectare!

But how much does an individual lyrebird displace? At one study location we estimated the density of the lyrebird population to be approximately one lyrebird for every 2.3 hectares of forest, thanks to the work of citizen scientists led by the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Study Group.

Based on this estimate, and to use our dump truck analogy, a single lyrebird will displace approximately 11 dump trucks of litter and soil in a single year.

Lyrebirds dig up a lot of dirt in forests.

Changes to the ground layer

After two years of lyrebird exclusion, leaf litter in the fenced plots was approximately three times deeper than in the unfenced plots. Soil compaction was also greater in the fenced plots.

Where lyrebirds foraged, the soil easily crumbled and the litter layer never fully recovered to a lyrebird-free state before foraging re-occurred.

This dynamic process of disturbance by lyrebirds has been going on for millennia, profoundly shaping these forests. For organisms such as centipedes, spiders and worms living in the litter and soil, the forest floor under the influence of lyrebirds may provide new opportunities that would not exist in their absence.

Terraced soil where litter has been removed and roots exposed by foraging lyrebirds.  Alex Maisey

An ecosystem ravaged by fire

The Australian megafires of 201920 resulted in approximately 40% of the Superb Lyrebird’s entire distribution being incinerated, according to a preliminary analysis by BirdLife Australia.

So great was the extent of these fires that the conservation status of the lyrebird has been thrown into question. That the conservation status has fallen — from “common” to potentially being “threatened” — from a single event is deeply concerning.


Read more:
After the bushfires, we helped choose the animals and plants in most need. Here’s how we did it
.


Loss of lyrebird populations on this scale will have potentially far-reaching effects on forest ecology.

In the face of climate change and a heightened risk of severe wildfire, understanding the role that species such as the Superb Lyrebird play in ecosystems is more important than ever.

Without lyrebirds, eastern Australia’s forests would be vastly different places, with impacts extending well beyond the absence of their glorious song to other animals who rely on these “ecosystem engineers”.The Conversation

Alex Maisey, PhD Candidate, La Trobe University and Andrew Bennett, Professor of Ecology, La Trobe University

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

 

Share This:

National Party at it again: SCRAP KOALA PROTECTION

NSW-koala-habitat-logging_AWPCsept2020

Chris Gulaptis MP and the Nationals declare war on koalas

CLARENCE NATIONAL PARTY MP Chris Gulaptis has opened a new front in the National Party’s war on koalas and conservation by demanding the new laws designed to prevent the species’ extinction be scrapped. [1]

“On current trends, koalas are on track to become extinct in NSW by 2050,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Chris Gambian said.

“The laws that Mr Gulaptis wants to tear up were drafted well before the summer bushfires, which killed thousands, wiped out local populations and pushed many others closer to extinction.

“If anything, the government should be considering strengthening laws to protect this iconic species.”

Mr Gambian said Mr Gulaptis’s threat to sit on the cross benches if the government didn’t scrap koala protections was the latest in a series of attacks by National MPs on koalas.

“Nationals Leader John Barilaro has aggressively pushed to continue logging koala forests after the bushfires destroyed millions of hectares of prime habitat,” Mr Gambian said.

“Several forests on the north coast that were among the last unburned koalas forests in the state have been targeted by Forestry Corporation for intensive logging with the state government’s blessing.

“The Nationals are also behind moves to slash and burn national parks and allow cows to trample conservation reserves.

“If we want our children and grandchildren to see koalas in the wild, we have to stop destroying their forests.

“If Mr Gulaptis and John Barilaro get their way, the demise of the koala is guaranteed to happen even faster than projected.”

[1] We can’t bear this nationals’ revolt, Daily Telegraph, 2-9-2020

— MEDIA RELEASE.  GRAPHIC: Sue Van Homrigh, AWPC.

Share This:

Housing development refused after (NSW) Mid North Coast Council raises koala concerns

Koala-tree-mid-nth-coast-NSW-supplied_Pat-Durman

By Kerrin Thomas, ABC Mid North Coast. 27 July 2020.

A HOUSING DEVELOPMENT refused by Mid Coast Council on the grounds it failed to address koala protection issues has also lost an appeal to the Land and Environment Court.

The applicants wanted to build six single-storey units on a site between Gollan Avenue and Beecher Street at Tinonee, near Taree, on the NSW Mid North Coast.

Despite a recommendation from staff that it be approved, MidCoast councillors refused the development with a vote of seven to two, citing reasons including a failure to adequately address koala protection issues.

That refusal was contested in the Land and Environment Court, which also dismissed the appeal.

In her judgement, Commissioner Sarah Bish described the site as mostly grass, with “a few mature trees scattered across the site”.

… CONTINUE READING

 

PICTURED: An ecologist for Mid Coast Council found evidence of koalas in a tree on the site of the development, according to the court judgement. (Supplied: Pat Durman)

 

 

Share This:

$1M Wildlife Carer Fund rorted by NSW government:

NSW-govt-rorts-carers-fund-may2020

80% redirected to other programs — only 20% paid to wildlife carers.

THE NSW LABOR Opposition has disclosed that the state government’s much-hyped million dollar fund for wildlife carers in bushfire-affected regions has been rorted by the government itself, with only 22 percent of the money being paid to wildlife carers.

At least half of the Wildlife Carers Bushfire Fund has already been redirected to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to fund other programs, including $62,000 on mapping exercises and $438,000 on two new staff positions within the Department to oversee wildlife rehabilitators.

The NSW Labor Opposition has called for the full funds to be reinstated and given to wildlife carers as promised.

When the fund was announced — to much fanfare — the Environment Minister Matt Kean’s claimed that “the funding will help wildlife rehabilitators respond and prepare for natural emergencies. Community rehabilitation groups and the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife will be able to access the funds.”

However, answers provided by the Minister to supplementary budget estimates questions reveal that only $220,000 has been paid to wildlife rehabilitators, with $500,000 spent internally and the remaining $280,000 unspent, six months later.

According to the Minister, the remaining funds will now be allocated towards repairing damaged infrastructure and will not be given to wildlife carers.

“The Government has been caught red-handed rorting their own wildlife carer fund,” Labor’s environment spokesperson, Kate Washington, said.

“This money was meant to go into the hands of our incredible wildlife carers to help keep injured animals alive. Instead, the Government stole 80 percent of the funds, and only a fraction of the money made its way to actual wildlife carers. It’s reprehensible.”

“Some entire regions ravaged by bushfires only received $3,000 from this fund, like the Blue Mountains and the New England region. Meanwhile, $500,000 was sneakily redirected back to the Department itself.”

“Koala mapping is important, of course, and so is oversight. But if you promise one million dollars for wildlife carers, you should deliver on that promise. The government shouldn’t steal half the money to pay itself, and then redirect the rest to other programs.”

“Matt Kean should hang his head in shame for giving false hope to the hard-working volunteers who are still struggling to keep injured animals and ecosystems alive.”

“The Environment Department already has staff who liaise with and oversee wildlife carers. They were already doing environmental mapping following the bushfires. Why does the government need to steal 80 percent of this fund to cover its day-to-day work?”

“This Minister loves a cute and cuddly headline, but when push comes to shove, and when the media attention wanes, Matt Kean has quietly cut and run with the money.”

“Wildlife carers are amazing, their work is hard and heartbreaking — they deserve the support they were promised,” concluded Ms Washington.

IMAGERY SOURCE: Wildcarers NSW

Share This:

Poisoned pills showered on burned parks and reserves, NSW

THE RECENT BUSHFIRES in eastern Australia have had an apocalyptic impact on the natural environment and wildlife, as the whole world now knows. What most Australians and overseas wildlife friends don’t know is some of the troubling response by state authorities.

wildlife-cons-bushfire-recoveryThe NSW government has devised a plan called The Wildlife and Conservation Bushfire Recovery Plan put forward by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment with management by NSW National Parks. Sounds benign and much of it is.

The suffering of some wildlife and the needs of citizen rescuers have been recognised in the plan’s proposed financial assistance to individuals and organisations, as well as with money for food drops and watering stations in areas of inaccessible bushland. Some good recovery actions are planned, see document link below for the department’s ‘Bushfire Recovery Plan’.

But there is a darker side — bringing new pain and death, thanks to Australia’s traditional lethal approach to managing predators and other animals inconvenient to agriculture, or indeed just Australian ideas of wildlife management.

The department’s plan has a list of threatened and vulnerable native animals suffering from habitat loss, scarcity of food and water, and threats of predation by feral animals — including the Mountain Pygmy Possum, the Greater Glider, the White-footed Dunnart, the Stuttering Frog, and some wallabies. Rescue operations are named also for Platypus, Grey-headed flying foxes, Booroolong frogs, genetically important Koalas from the Blue Mountains region, Manning River Helmeted Turtles, Northern Corroboree Frogs. Well and good.

But missing from the check list of animals that the authorities care about are more common species including larger kangaroos and wombats, birds of prey, and the Australian native dog the Dingo. Indeed, the dingo as a ‘wild dog’ and a list of non-native animals are the target of a shooting and poisoning campaign being launched on burned-out parks and reserves for the coming year, ostensibly to save the above threatened species.

The poisoning blizzard has been spun by departmental aides armed with a barrage of statistics as being essential to benefit these vulnerable native animals.

Is that so?

History has made neighbouring landholders more enquiring and worried. One neighbouring landholder, worried for her own rescued animals and companion dogs, told the AWPC she learned from a state worker that the traditional motive for poisoning campaigns — sheep farmers lobbying National Parks to kill canine predators — is also at work here.

It appears that dingos have simply been re-classified as wild dogs for the purposes of baiting which has been par for the course by the government’s Local Land Services for some time.

The Australian dingo among non-native animals targeted by shooting and poisoning campaign on burned-out public lands. Neighbours worry.

Animals listed to be killed are dogs, foxes, cats, deer, pigs, goats and rabbits. When broadscale lethal management is on the mind of authorities they reach for the gun and for 1080 poison.

1080 banned in most of the world

1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) occurs naturally in some plants as a defence. It is considered so nasty a poison against mammals that it has been banned in most countries of the world nowadays and is accused of deleterious effects on a wider range of species beyond mammals. 1080 is used liberally in New Zealand and also in Australia because it is cheap and readily applied being colourless, odourless and tasteless so readily eaten by various species when in appealing baits.

Animals that take in 1080 die a prolonged and agonising death whether directly or as non-target species including scavenging dogs and birds. A “scientific” experiment on the effects of 1080 poison on baited dingoes gave detailed accounts of vomiting, manic behaviour, convulsions and fits over a period of a time from hours to days.

Many landholders have been agonised by a similar death of their pet dogs when living near baited state or private land.

RELATED STORY:
After the fires, 1080 baits pose new problem for animal sanctuary.

By Michael Weaver, Riot Act!

National Parks’ killing plan to run for 12 months, shooting and baiting. One million 1080 baits ready. Who pays and who benefits?

  • 1,500–2,000 hours of aerial shooting
  • localised follow-up and ground shooting
  • up to 60,000 kilometres of aerial baiting
  • deployment of up to 1,000,000 baits

Dingo defender Susan Cruttenden from the NSW South Coast asks:

How can dingoes and other carnivorous native animals such as the Spotted Quoll be given any sort of protection in what one official called “core areas” when they have been driven away from their regular habitats by fear, fire and hunger?

The department said in response to questions from Cruttenden:

 “Aerial baiting for wild dogs is designed to avoid core remote areas in parks where dingoes cause no harm, allowing dingoes to maintain their ecological function in these areas.

“Scientific research has shown native animals including lace monitors and birds have a high tolerance to 1080. Research has also shown that aerial baiting does not significantly impact quolls populations.

“Aerial baiting will comply with all relevant codes of practice and regulations, and will be informed by a risk assessment. Work will be carried out by an experienced National Parks and Wildlife Service staff team that has been delivering aerial baiting for two decades.”

The responses add more questions and beg for sources of the Quoll research for example. Core areas and harm? Core areas of National Parks were burned as well, so recovering wildlife there no worry with wild dogs?

Cruttenden repeats what other research has found — there are more effective and more humane ways of protecting farmers’ livestock from dingoes and other predatory animals. The apex predator role in nature is another issue.

One sheep farmer we know of uses Alpaca guards and it works. A more holistic farming method includes the whole natural biodiversity from the soil up. Not killing native prey wallabies and kangaroos, or predators has worked on these farms with a balance established.

In defence of the dingo and Australian biodiversity

Charming the visitor at the Toolern Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre. Image: Allan Baxter.

Canus lupus dingo has survived in Australia for thousands of years, is revered by indigenous people as a totem animal, and admired by people who have protected and cared for it in homes and sanctuaries.

The dingo is also highly regarded by scientists and ecologists for its unique qualities and the vital role it plays as apex-predator in the wild.

Dingoes are recognised as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and National Resources, an organisation which has world renowned naturalist David Attenborough as its patron. Estimates of the number of dingoes in the wild vary greatly because of the vast areas to be covered.

Australia’s biodiversity is crashing, independent of bushfires

Animal eradication plans are among the concerns of the 248 Australian scientists who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in late 2019 urging strong leadership to arrest the rapid decline in the number of native species and the break-down of  natural eco-systems.


Sign the Change.org petition #BAN1080
AGAINST 1080 THAT HAS ALREADY GARNERED 28,000+ SIGNATURES

— and PASS IT ON

Share This:

1 2