Category Archives: Threatened species

Australia to launch new strategy to save endangered native animals

A strategy to save 20 declining native mammals such as the numbat, the greater bilby and the eastern barred bandicoot by 2020 will be launched in Melbourne this week. Threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews said this plan would help address Australia’s unenviable record of having lost 29 native species since 1788.

The extinction of species in recent history has eclipsed the rate that the Earth would naturally lose species, and this gap is growing. Last week, another eight species were added to Australia’s list of threatened species, adding to a growing list of more than 1,800 Australian species and ecological communities at risk of extinction. Extinction is not inevitable. Extinction is a choice.

Conservationists examined the Federal Government’s current strategy to protect 120 of the most endangered animals in Australia and found for nearly 70 per cent of the animals, habitat loss from practices such as mining or logging was the biggest threat.

Numbat

(image: “Numbat” by Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia). Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The conservationists will take their concerns to the first national summit on threatened species next week. It is being hosted by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, with the aim of bringing attention to species in danger and looking at how best to protect plants and animals.

Successive Australian governments have failed to protect the habitat of the country’s most endangered creatures. A report, compiled by the Australian Conservation Foundation, BirdLife Australia and Environmental Justice Australia, states that recovery plans consistently avoid any measures to limit habitat loss and that successive governments have “entrenched the process of extinction”.

Around half of all of Australia’s forests have either been cut down or severely disturbed since European arrival on the continent, meaning the habitat of a vast array of species has become fragmented or vanished.

Greater_Bilby

(image: Greater Bilby -David Fleay Wildlife Park, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, South Queensland)

 

Not without irony, just last Wednesday, federal environment minister Greg Hunt approved the Watermark Coal Mine in New South Wales. China’s thirst for coal will come at a cost! The Shenhua mine will destroy 771 hectares of some of eastern Australia’s most threatened ecosystems. These endangered box and gum woodlands are home to rare and rapidly-declining species, such as the colourful swift parrot, regent honeyeater and koalas.

Clearfell_Wet_Eucalypt_forest_in_Maydena_South-west_Tasmania

(image: Clearfell Wet Eucalypt forest in Maydena South-west Tasmania 2013)

That approval, given under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, is not the final step. Shenhua still needs a mining license from New South Wales, and three further approvals on water management and rehabilitation from the federal government.

Policy coordinator for the Australian Conservation Foundation said: “Threatened species protection isn’t just about feral cats. It’s about a diverse range of pressures and the biggest threat is habitat clearance. We have a choice – we either accept that we put developments in less environmentally sensitive areas or we will have species go extinct.”

It has been estimated that a ten-year investment of $290 million would reverse the declines of our threatened wallabies, bettongs and other macropods. We spend billions of dollars for submarines that will only last a few decades, but we cannot afford a few hundred million to save our precious wildlife?

It’s a tremendous challenge, against the tide of urbanization, mining, logging industries. Australia, the most biologically diverse nation on the planet, is paying a high price for economic growth.

(featured image: “Cutest Koala” by Erik Veland – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Petitions:

Olive Vale in Cape York is just one example out of many clearing permits currently in the pipeline.

Stop the Dozers

 

Unless we stop habitat loss and limit global warming, our threatened species like the koala and the cassowary don’t stand a chance.

Protect the wildlife we love!

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Australian Government: SAVE OUR DINGOES FROM EXTINCTION..RE-CLASSIFY AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES

Why this is important

The Dingo plays an extremely important role in our Eco-System.
Dingoes are in fact native.
They keep other herbivores in a natural balance…
In a natural environment, Dingoes prefer to eat rabbits, roos, ferals, introduced species etc..Not Stock… They “Do Not” kill just for the hunt, like so many ignorant people assume!!
a skinny dingo asking for food
Dingoes control kangaroos and suppress foxes and feral cats, as well as protecting pastures from overgrazing by “nuisance species”.
Dingoes are far from vermin and ecosystems with dingoes have better vegetation and abundant small native animals.
Baiting and killing dingoes could lead to more stock deaths!
Baiting dingoes fractures the pack dynamics and in turn causes hyperpredation and hybridisation, because dingoes are socially complex, they’re particularly sensitive to lethal control.
(images: Hungry dingoes begging for food on Fraser Island.  Photographer: Jennifer Parkhurst)

SIGN THE PETITION

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AWPC writes to Melbourne Water re threat to de-tree Lee St Frankston retardant basin wildlife corridor

Letter from Craig Thomson, President AWPC
Dated 23 January 2017.

Subject: Lee st Retarding Basin Frankston

Addressed to: David.Fairbridge@frankston.vic.gov.au (Biodiversity Officer at Frankston Council), lisa.neville@parliament.vic.gov.au (Minister for Police and Water) rbupgrades@melbournewater.com.au (email address for Melbourne Water retardant basin upgrades).

The Australian Wildlife Protection Council understands and recognise the needs to protect our communities from potential danger. We are also aware that the removal of vegetation has an impact on wildlife species. In fact it is a guarantee that wildlife will be killed during works that clear vegetation. As such we expect that every possible measure is undertaken to see if in fact clearing is necessary and if so that appropriate actions are taken and that local wildlife shelters are not left too pick up the pieces of poor planning.

We have received concern from the local community members that the threat of flooding to the local community at the Lee St retarding basin has not deemed a risk in the past and believe the proposed clearance of vegetation is excessive and will have significant impact on fauna as well as other issues, particularly of erosion and dust as well. So the Australian Wildlife Protection Council would greatly appreciate if you could answer the following questions;

-What pre-fauna surveys have been carried out and when?

-What species have been identified on site?

-What are the actions have been put into place for fauna pre, during and post construction activities for fauna?

-Which wildlife rescue groups, wildlife shelters and vets have been contacted to look after or treat any injured wildlife?

-What arrangements have been made to financially compensate these groups?

-Do local wildlife shelters have the capacity to look after injured wildlife, as they could be attending to heat stress events or bushfire effected wildlife?

-What measures have been taken to install nest boxes or other artificial habitat for displaced wildlife?

-Do they have appropriate wildlife handling permits as well as permits to have protected wildlife euthanised if injured or unable to relocate wildlife in a safe distance from their habitat loss?

-What community groups have they contacted to work with as stated in their community information sheet?  [Ref: ] “We understand the importance of trees to the local community and are committed to working closely with council, residents and community groups to develop an appropriate plan for reinstatement of trees else where in the area” in the information document provided for this project https://www.melbournewater.com.au/sites/default/files/2018-01/Communitybulletin-LeeStreet.pdf

-Where are other trees being planted, what species are to be planted and how many?

-Are offsets being provided?

-Is there an arborist report of the trees health?

-Can records of water depth be provided for the Lee St retarding basin to show threat of flooding to neighbouring properties over the years of its existence?

-Can modelling or records be provided of local flooding for once in a 40+ year storm event?

-What are the EPA regulations you are keeping to with to for this project?

-Can you provide a copy of the ANCOLD guidelines?

The Australian Wildlife Protection Council also has the understanding that you are in the process of selling off land on McClelland Dve to Ambulance Victoria for an ambulance station and another permit application has been made by Log Cabin Caravan Park. In fact we believe that all land owned by Melbourne Water from Skye Rd to Frankston/Cranbourne Rd is being considered surplus land by Melbourne Water. So it appears there are several sites across the Frankston city council municipality owned by Melbourne Water that poses a potential loss of biodiversity.

So the final question we have to you is what is Melbourne Water’s commitment to biodiversity in Frankston?

 

Eve Kelly, Secretary of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council writes post script..

Planning for Wildlife and Associated Costs

Having a plan of how to deal with wildlife well before the clearing commences is paramount and note: not all ecological consultants are trained in wildlife spotting or wildlife handling and relocation and none will have facilities or permits to rehabilitate injured or orphaned wildlife.

For wildlife relocation to be successful, with possums in particular, it needs to be planned well in advance, for example, adult possums must trapped, taken into care and bonded to a nest box and then released nearby with their new nest box. Simply installing nest boxes is not effective and is essentially a waste of resources and time, most nest-boxes will be left empty or eventually inhabited by introduced species of birds or bees. Relocating possums without a nest into another possum’s territory is cruel as it will result in fighting and injured and/or displaced animals coming down to the ground and at risk of predation or vehicle collision.

In the planning for wildlife relocation, it is necessary to engage with local wildlife shelters, who are permitted to rehab possums and vets. If possums drop their pouch young these animals need to be hand-reared before they can be released back into the wild. Pouch young may take up to 7 months to rear. It costs between $200 -$1000 to rear one possum from the pouch to release. These costs are invariably paid by volunteer wildlife shelters. The time and effort, already stretched in these vital shelters, is also pushed to breaking point when habitat is cleared without proper planning and communication.

Government departments must not only plan appropriately for the humane treatment of wildlife but compensate and duly pay for the wildlife expenses that are generated from displacing wildlife.

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Baird government to axe Native Vegetation Act

Koalas and other iconic wildlife are vanishing from our bushland as the trees they call home continue to be cleared for farmland. They’re plastered across our tourism brochures, yet government policies are putting them at risk.
The NSW Baird government is scrapping the Native Vegetation Act – one of the most important protections for koalas in our state.  While the focus remains on native vegetation, a real and important issue is the wildlife, and ecological systems, that inherently belong to these habitats.  It’s assumed they will just “move on” and re-home themselves conveniently elsewhere!   The “elsewhere” is getting harder and harder to find.

The Native Vegetation Act 2003 (the Act) frames the way landholders manage native vegetation in NSW by preventing broadscale clearing unless it improves or maintains environmental outcomes.

Data collated by the Productivity Commission for their review of native vegetation regulation found that a decline in overall clearance did take place from the early 1980s to the early 2000s in all Australian states and territories (Productivity Commission 2004)  However, of the 74,000 hectares of land cleared in New South Wales in 2005, 40 percent (ie 30,000ha) was cleared illegally (ie without prior approval; NSW AOG 2006).

In 2003, the NSW Government pledged $3.5m to establish a satellite monitoring system in the state (although some parties have claimed the receiving department did not end up using the money for this purpose; The Wilderness Society 2008).

A biodiversity report released last December contained 43 recommendations for significant change, including repealing the Native Vegetation Act and other legislation that had been plaguing farmer productivity for decades.  It also recommended streamlining of development assessment where land use change can occur, which places farming development on an even playing field with other types of development.  It’s commercial interests, of profit-increasing, over conservation and protection of biodiversity.  Instead of a triple bottom-line, the bottom line will be profits, developments and economic progress!

Key to the proposal is the removal of the requirement that land clearing only be allowed if it improves or maintains environmental outcome, and shifting approval for vegetation clearing to the planning system.  North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh said most rural councils had yet to identify or map high-conservation value vegetation for protection and, where they had ,the National Party had intervened to stop it.

A host of environmental groups, including World Wildlife Fund  and the National Parks Association, condemned the review of the state’s biodiversity legislation for neutering the office of environment and say it will lead to wide-scale land clearing and loss of species.

The review panel report that recommended this backward legislation also recommended conserving habitat at a regional or even state scale. Farmers, it said, had been left to carry an unfair share of responsibility for preserving nature in the state. “Regional or State” level is a way of leaving it up to individuals, who will probably be loaded with conflicts of interests! It’s political abandonment, to make way for housing and urban growth.

Of course the National Party and the farmers will welcome this news, and gives them more license for land clearing and short-term profits.
Mr Evans, chief executive of NSW National Parks Association, said the rate of land-clearing from agriculture had fallen 68 per cent since the Native Vegetation Act was passed in 2003. So, the Act was working!

The Wilderness Society NSW Campaign Manager Belinda Fairbrother said: “Weakening wildlife protection laws will place our threatened species in peril at a time when bold action is required to reverse the ongoing decline in our state’s rich biological diversity… We are resolutely opposed to any weakening of our state’s wildlife protection and land clearing laws”. Backward Australia will be more cleared at a time of multiple environmental and climate change threats, and will be a the cost of long term sustainability, and ultimately more food security threats.

CSIRO_ScienceImage_620_A_paddock_containing_native_remnant_vegetation_to_promote_biodiversity
“The Native Vegetation Act is among the most important nature conservation laws in NSW because it protects so much of the state’s wildlife like koalas and gliders from indiscriminate destruction. “If new laws weaken protections for land and wildlife, Mike Baird will be remembered as the Premier who took us back to the dark days of broadscale land clearing” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.

(image: paddock containing remnant native vegetation:CSIRO )

Labor leader Luke Foley said native animals, birds and native bushland would be the losers after the Government said it would implement all 43 recommendations of a review of the state’s biodiversity legislation, completed last year.

Sydney’s urban sprawl had wiped out market gardens on peripheral land since first settlement. The problem now is Sydney’s expansion has reached the last phase, where in 20 to 50 years the sprawl will eradicate unprotected farms. So, instead of containing the limits of population growth, more land clearing will “fix” the problem, and mow down the constraints of trees, grasslands and bush in the path of “progress”.

Australia continues to have a net loss of biodiversity and the United Nations reports that we are entering an extinction crisis. What does this government and some farmers have against a healthy environment?
Contradictorily, at the same time as the government is establishing a $100 million survival fund to stop a ‘race to extinction’! The commitment was made after Opposition Leader Luke Foley promised $150 million to create new national parks including a Great Koala National Park on the north coast — as a nod to the NSW Labor Party’s preference allies the Greens. It’s easy to make political promises, throw out spin, and money to environmental problems, but actually have tight laws and policies protecting native vegetation and wildlife is far to holistic and intrinsic for slippery politicians who pander to lobby groups.

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Birdlife Australia: Long distance champions flying into extinction

8 May 2015

While the world celebrates World Migratory Bird Day this weekend, BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Species Committee has released grim news confirming that seven of Australia’s migratory shorebird species are on a trajectory to extinction.

Australian’s love the battlers, and small-time heroes. These little birds seem insignificant, but they are amazing travellers, facing all the torrents of winds, seas, currents but face increasingly hostile and dwindling safe landings.

“Once common species like Eastern Curlew and Curlew Sandpiper are now Critically Endangered with Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot and Great Knot not far behind”, says Samantha vine, Birdlife Australia’s Head of Conservation. In 30 years these birds could be gone forever, and perhaps most alarming is the fact that the once numerous and widespread Red-necked Stint has moved onto the Near Threatened list. Modern Australia, the land of mammal extinctions, is now repeating their “success” with migratory birds!

Read also a previous article on our website: Disappearing migratory shore birds

“This miraculous bird, (Red-necked Stint) no bigger than a sparrow, is capable of flying more than 20,000 km each year. But like other migratory shorebirds, it needs Australia, China, Korea and other Asian nations to work together to protect the rich mudflats that fuel its migration,” continued Ms Vine. If they don’t have a safe stop-over point for rest and food, they die of starvation!
Red-neckedStint
(image: Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Winter Plumage, Ralph’s Bay, Tasmania, Australia)

BirdLife Australia is not going to let these birds disappear without a fight. They are calling on the Australian Government to do more to protect migratory shorebirds at home and in Asia. BirdLife has launched a petition asking Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt to develop:

        • A strong national wetlands policy to address the cumulative impacts of multiple threats to our shorebirds (the ‘death by a thousand cuts’); and
        • An ambitious strategy to engage our international partners in the protection of habitat important to the survival of our shorebirds.

Wetland habitat loss and degradation is a significant threat to migratory waterbirds, and the conservation of important sites both within Australia and along their migration routes is essential to their survival. Many pressures are contributing to this degradation, of which population growth and associated coastal development are of particular concern.

Housing has become a major industry in Australia. As a result, important habitat is being lost to port developments, housing and industry in Australia each year. But it will also put a spotlight on communities taking action to protect the wetlands and shorebirds they love.


Please sign the petition, Shorebirds in Crisis

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Bleak future for Australian frogs

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

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

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

Baw_Baw_Frog-large(image: Baw Baw frog)

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

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

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

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

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

Southern_Corroboree_frog(image: Corroboree frog)

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

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

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

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

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

Other threats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadly urban sprawl

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

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

Growling_Grass_Frog(image: Growling Grass Frog)

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

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

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

Ecological role of amphibians

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

(featured image: Growling Grass frog)

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