Category Archives: New South Wales

World Wetlands Day, Menindee Lakes (NSW), Ramsar Convention

Lake-Menindee-decline

Letter to the Editor…

WETLANDS IN NSW are disappearing at an alarming rate. According to government data, NSW had 110,000 hectares of wetlands in 2017, half the historical average.

Climate change, drought and water greed for crops like cotton are killing these wildlife hotspots and priceless water purification systems.

They are some of the most important ecosystems on earth, and yet we treat them like irrigation ditches, or worse, drain them to create sheep paddocks.

The western regions of NSW are blessed with some of the most important wetlands in the world.

Some, like the Macquarie Marshes, are already listed on the register of internationally significant wetlands under the Ramsar Convention.

Others, like the Menindee Lakes near Broken Hill, still are not.

Worse still, the lakes are being pushed closer to the brink of ecological collapse with engineering works planned that would prevent the lakes filling and emptying naturally ever again.

The government is perpetrating this vandalism so corporate irrigators at the top of the catchment can keep siphoning off vast volumes of water for crops such as cotton.

Enough is enough

As we mark World Wetlands Day (2 February) and the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention this week, we call on the NSW Government to nominate the lakes for Ramsar listing.

This would not only have tremendous symbolic power.

It would trigger better protections for these fragile ecosystems and a more ecologically sensitive approach to the critical issue of water management.

Ramsar listing would also boost the economy by stimulating tourism, investment and much-needed jobs in one of the country’s most disadvantaged regions.

— Chris Gambian  Chief Executive
Nature Conservation Council of NSW

VIEW IMAGE SOURCE: NASA Landsat Image Gallery

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Rescued koalas, Jessie and Amelia, return to the wild (NSW)

koalas-Jessie-Amelia-source_ifaw

Early in 2020, amidst the devastating bushfires that ravaged Australia, Bear, the USC x IFAW koala detection dog was deployed to Peak View in NSW, at the site of Two Thumbs Wildlife Sanctuary.

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The Sanctuary, run by James Fitzgerald, had been destroyed by the Good Good Fire on 23rd January and was dealt a second blow when a firefighting air tanker crashed while trying to protect the sanctuary, killing the three US firefighter crew onboard.The Hercules water bomber (an aircraft filled with water to dump thousands of litres of water and fire retardant on out-of-control blazes) had been deployed in an effort to regain control of the fires at Two Thumbs as the flames were too large to be dealt with by fire trucks.

Rescuing Jessie and Amelia

“When we heard the devastating news of Two Thumbs Wildlife Sanctuary being destroyed this past January, we deployed USC X IFAW’s detection dog, Bear, to help search for survivors” says IFAW’s Josey Sharrad.

Bear and the team visited the area to look for surviving koalas in need of rescue. Using the scent of their fur, Bear located a mother koala and her joey. The koalas, named Jessie and Amelia (pictured above), were brought to the Australian National University, where they received emergency care and embarked on a specialized rehabilitation plan led by Dr. Karen Ford. During a checkup, the team performed an ultrasound and discovered exciting news — Jessie was pregnant!

… CONTINUE READING  (ifaw website)

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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.

 

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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
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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.

 

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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.

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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)

 

 

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