Category Archives: Threatened species

Cruel blow for new national park and Leadbeater’s possums

A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater’s possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests locked in millions of dollars worth of new logging contracts.  (The Age, Nov 15th)

Rather than Democracy, Corporatocracy – or the power of corporations- determines the fate of our own Victorian fauna Emblem.

The decision to set up a taskforce to strike a “consensus” followed pressure during the campaign from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and and Energy Union, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on concerns that ending logging in the area would threaten Gippsland jobs.  Threats against “jobs” is more important than small and seemingly insignificant fairy possums!

VicForests’ latest annual report suggests “ending logging before the 2018 election could be difficult”.  Their annual report shows they’ve negotiated various contracts to harvest and haul 900,000 cubic  metres of wood a year for the next three or four years!

The same State government can’t endorse a new national park, and also be the owner of VicForests.  It’s a contraction of terms, and a conflict of interests.  What this national park needs to protect is the ancient old-growth forest of Mountain Ash, and threatened native species, not  the “logging industry and jobs”!  Economic growth and jobs will eventually eat up all our natural resources!

What needs protecting can’t have the same owners that threaten to destroy it, for short-term monetary gain. Our State’s fauna emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, needs protection from the same State government that is threatening the park’s implementation.

The Victorian state government revealed long-awaited terms of reference for an industry taskforce, established to navigate the explosive battles between loggers and environmentalists over the state’s native forests.  The taskforce will investigate issues including protection of threatened species such as the Leadbeater’s possum, job protection and economic activity.

Logging, conservation of the possums, are in direct conflict.  How is this impossible task to be negotiated?  You can’t have the old growth forests intact, and also have them chopped down, with Leadbeater’s possums losing their only homes?  Opening up the canopy of the forest will make them more vulnerable to fires, then the problem of the pesky possums will be solved- “naturally”.   Their final demise, extinction, will solve this tricky problem. Native forests animals are a threat to job protection, and constrict economic activities!

Conservations and scientists — including David Attenborough — have long argued that the park is needed to protect the possum, which is believed to be perilously close to extinction.  Clearly, “conservation” of logging jobs has priority over the conservation of our native animals, even threatened ones.  They prefer the possums go extinct rather than have logging jobs threatened. The mighty dollar has enormous power to wield over these decision, and the Great Forest National Park would be a threat to incomes!



(image:  Corduroy road built from native forest in the highly contested Gun Barrel logging coupe (297-526-0001), in Sylvia Creek Forest, north-east of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. This photo was taken on 13 September 2011, at which point logging had been banned here after the Victorian Supreme Court extended an injunction blocking the state-owned timber company, VicForests, from logging until at least February 2012, when the trial begins with MyEnvironment, a local environment organisation. The area is an important habitat for the endangered Leadbeater's possum, whose population was decimated by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.)

Lobby groups with vested interest in jobs, and logging, need to be given the chop!  The CFMEU want access to the forests for the benefit of their members.

This “blow” to the forest plan needs to be dealt with internally, from the State government.  The government’s position on logging in native forests is ambiguous, despite promising a special taskforce to examine the issue and help secure the long-term survival of Victoria’s iconic Leadbeater’s possum.

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia in Asia Minor. Located in the city of Gordium, the knot came to symbolize a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve.  Alexander the Great’s solution to the problem led to the saying, “cutting the Gordian knot,” which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.  The bold action needed in this case is to make the brave, courageous and glaringly obvious political decision – the implementation of the Great Forest National Park!  Not all groups can be appeased, especially if their aims are purely monetary and short-term.

You can’t have contradictory policies, and you can’t have your cake and eat it too!


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Environment group wins battle to protect habitat for threatened powerful, sooty, masked owls

The Victorian Government has agreed to set aside 2,000 hectares of forest in East Gippsland to help protect three threatened species of owl.

An agreement was reached on Friday between Environment East Gippsland and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) before the case was scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court.

SootyOwl(image: Sooty Owl)

Owls, gliders, frogs, bandicoots, potoroos and untold other species were wiped out in the 2009 Black Saturday inferno. It will take decades for the damage from this shockingly managed fire to start to recover. East Gippsland’s rare species that relied on the Snowy Park for refuge will now be under even greater threat and need all the help they can get.

Environment East Gippsland’s Jill Redwood said it was a “fairly significant” win for the threatened Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls. The State government is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Act, and environmental protection laws, but they are the convicted eco-criminals here!

Brown Mountain’s remaining unprotected stands of 580ha (including a Powerful Owl nest site) to be included in a Special Protection Zone, including 185ha that was scheduled for VicForests logging.

When the law-enforcers end up as the law-breakers, the public must take action!

Click here to listen to Jill Redwood, Nathan Trushell and Nina Cullen.

The three key species of threatened forest owls that live in areas of Victorian State Forest that VicForests operate within are the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae novaehollandiae) and Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa).

This 10 month case sought to enforce the state government’s obligations to protect 3 threatened owl species – the Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls.

Environment East Gippsland argued that the government had failed to protect the legal minimum habitat for threatened owls, and that bushfires in 2014 destroyed large areas of protected owl habitat. Meanwhile, VicForests had plans to continue clearfelling unabated in areas where the rare owls survived.

“This agreement is one step in the right direction – but the most cost-effective way to protect threatened wildlife and avoid future legal disputes is to permanently protect their habitat, especially all remaining old growth forests in East Gippsland. The owls are just one of so many rare native animals in need of urgent protection. We hope to see the new Labor government works with the community to find win-win solutions, rather than paying out $5.5 million a year for VicForests to continue clearfelling critically important habitat”.

For comment: Jill Redwood – 5154 0145

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Farewell Shorebirds: Are you up for the challenge?


Right now over five million shorebirds are migrating from Australia to breed in the Arctic – for some that’s the equivalent of doing 309 consecutive marathons with only one or two drink stops along the way. And what’s more, once they have nested and raised their young, they turn around and do it all again.

From 21 March – 19 April, BirdLife Australia will be celebrating its annual migratory shorebird event, Farewell Shorebirds We are challenging Australians to join the birds, by registering their human-powered kilometres against the bird-powered kilometres. Do we as a nation have what it takes to walk, jog, cycle or swim as far as these incredible birds?

As well as registering your kilometres for the shorebirds, we are encouraging Australians to follow the departure of eight popular shorebirds through our online Departure Lounge. It includes the Bar-tailed Godwit from the Hunter Estuary in NSW, the Curlew Sandpiper from Point Cook in Victoria, the Eastern Curlew from Queensland’s Moreton Bay, the Greater Sand Plover and the Red Knot from the Broome Bird Observatory in WA, the Great Knot from Lee Point in Darwin, the Red-necked Stint from Barrow Island in WA, and the Ruddy Turnstone from South Australia.

(image: Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) winter plumage, Marion Bay, Tasmania, Australia.)

To be a part of this exciting event head to the website, log your distance travelled each day, help reach the national target, learn about shorebirds and go into the draw to win some incredible prizes!

Click Here- Farewell Shore Birds  

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Kakadu bushfire sparked by ‘controlled burn’

Kakadu is a timeless place – beautiful and diverse beyond belief. It’s home to more than 2,000 plant species and some of the most charismatic animals around. Within the vast landscapes, there are six main landforms. These landforms are home to a range of plants and animals, endemic to Kakadu. Kakadu National Park supports an astonishing array of animals, and a number of which have adapted to particular habitats.

A bushfire on 1 October destroyed more than 200 square kilometres of bushland in this world heritage national park. The federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, has ordered an investigation into a week-long bushfire in Kakadu national park sparked after a mining company lost control of a “controlled burn” – a contradiction in terms!

Minister Hunt has asked the Department and Parks Australia to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of the fire,” a statement said.

The fire threatened a number of culturally and historically significant sites. There was a change in wind after the burn had ended reignited embers and carried them across containment lines.

If the fire reached the rugged and waterless escarpment country, and it would be far more difficult to extinguish, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) CEO Justin O’Brien said

“There’s no water in there, you can’t get suppression in there from the air, you can’t get boots on the ground in that country, it’s too rugged” he said.

Traditional owners blamed the operators of the Ranger uranium mine, ERA, for lighting a fire too late in the top end’s dry season and losing control of it.

(image: early burn at Kakadu)

The late dry season fire burned with more heat and torched trees used for habitat by endangered species,

ERA, majority owned by Rio Tinto, faces fines of up to $8.5m if it is found to have breached the environment protection and biodiversity conservation act. ERA has issued a statement saying it did not need approval to burn-off in its Ranger Project Area.

Fire management is undertaken both by traditional owners and park staff, mostly in the early to mid-dry season period (typically May-July) when fires tend to be small, patchy, of low intensity and typically go out at night under cool, dewy conditions.

Small mammal are in decline, due to fire regimes, characterised by frequent, extensive, late-season wildfires. Fire extent – an index incorporating fire size and fire frequency – was the best predictor of mammal declines, and was superior to the proportion of the surrounding area burnt and fire patchiness.

Work in Kakadu National Park has shown that between 1996 and 2009 mammal populations crashed, with species richness and total abundance decreasing by 65% and 75% respectively.

Prominent conservationist Tim Flannery asserts that “the main driver appears to be changes in fire regime, compounded by the presence of feral cats”. The breakdown of traditional Aboriginal fire management – and possible increase in the size and intensity of fires – is often suggested as a trigger.

The Northern Land Council says the devastating fires in Kakadu over the past week, caused by poor fire management by Energy Resources of Australia. “The fires have also highlighted the pressing need for the Australian Government to reinstate traditional fire management practices delivered by Aboriginal people across the Park. Kakadu is listed for its environmental and cultural values and it’s time to deliver outcomes that deliver on its cultural values in addition to its environmental values” says NLC CEO, Joe Morrison.
Large parts of the park have burnt over 10 times in the past 14 years. We say there is a significant opportunity to reduce this fire frequency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions coming from the park,” Mr Morrison said.


Petition: Save the Northern Quoll and 74 Other Endangered Species in Kakadu!

(featured image: Mount Borradail, Kakadu. Copyright of NT Tourism )

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Koala extinction? Protection is being watered down!

According to the Australian Koala Foundation, there is currently no legislation, anywhere in the country, that can protect Koalas and Koala habitat in Australia. The listing of the koala as “vulnerable” under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2012 changed nothing. This is supposed to be the premier law for protecting Australia’s environment, yet it is powerless.

The Australian Koala Foundation’s (AKF) research indicates that the Koala is in trouble and that extinctions of local populations have already occurred. In contrast to the millions of Koalas which were thought to be present at the time of European settlement, the AKF believes that there could be less than 80,000 remaining today, possibly as few as 43,000. If this rate of decline continues then yes, the Koala is at risk of extinction.

In 1902 in the state of New South Wales alone 600,000 koala skins were publicly sold. The historian Ellis Troughton has claimed that nearly 2 million koala skins were exported from Australia as recently as 1924. By the late 1920’s the Koala was almost extinct. The situation was so dire that they became extinct in the state of South Australia. There were only a few hundred left in New South Wales and a few thousand in Victoria and Queensland.

The major threats to koalas are listed as

  • Habitat loss
  • Motor vehicle and dog attacks
  • Bush Fires
  • Disease

“We need a national recovery plan that would mean developers have to change their behavior. And yet there’s no sign of it. They’ve got rid of so many people in the department I’m not even sure there’s anyone left who can do it” says Deborah Tabart, chief executive of the Australian Koala Foundation. Unless there’s a plan for a sustainable human population size, and a more diverse economy, then there are few options left for these iconic and world-renown animals!

Habitat loss, motor vehicles and dog attacks, bush fires will all increase with housing and human population growth.

The National Koala Alliance (NKA), which was launched recently, and aims to ensure the national icon survives and thrives for future generations. It is a non-profit network of koala conservation, welfare, advocacy and research groups working in habitat conservation, political lobbying and the protection of individual koalas. Biodiversity legislation is being watered down and koala habitat is being destroyed by coastal peri-urban development and other harmful activities such as industrial-scale logging in the state’s forests, poorly regulated private native forestry and mining, the article says. Corporate power and demands for resources and land, means continually loosening environmental controls, and releasing land for housing developments.

Queensland Koala Crusaders secretary Vanda Grabowski said State Government law dictates all koalas that are not considered reproductively viable are euthanised.

Property developers said back in 2011 that the push to list koalas as endangered will threaten an industry which employs 11 per cent of the state’s workforce. The Property Council of Australia said koalas were adequately protected! Anything in their path gets bulldozed, and with the heavy support of governments, housing always is prioritized over native animals that can go “elsewhere”!.

“At the moment if a koala isn’t considered reproductively viable it is killed, that’s the law,” Ms Grabowski said. In the past 30 years, koala populations on the Sunshine Coast have dramatically declined.

Unfortunately a lot of wildlife corridors are not linked, so koalas can’t move from one to another. This effectively restricts them to one area. The placement of wildlife corridors should be planned so that one links to another to allow free movement of our native wildlife.

The Pacific Highway threatens to bisect koala populations in the north of NSW. Habitat loss for urban development continues on the coastal lowlands. The future looks bleak for koalas. If current declines continue, koalas will be extinct in NSW by 2055.

Property developers have had a boom time, and now it’s time for a sustainable and innovative economic model. The destruction of habitats for the housing boom must end. We need to stop the addiction to “growth”, and it’s destructive bulldozing of koala habitat. We need a sustainable population plan for Australia, not just bulldozer economics!

Stop Driving Koalas towards extinction

Koalas in Australia suffer from a severe chlamydia epidemic. Take action!

Please Save our koalas from extinction – Call in and refuse the ‘Shoreline’ Development Application to Redland City Council – Redland Bay MCU013287


Please write to him and tell him to “lay the maps on the floor, make a coffee and ingest what you are seeing in this graphic display of science at its best”.


Tweet: @TurnbullMalcolm

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LONELY AT THE TOP: Meddling in Ecosystems

By Natalie Kyriacou
About the author:
Natalie Kyriacou is the Director of My Green World, an organisation dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife and habitats. She has worked on various animal welfare and conservation projects, including an orangutan rehabilitation program in Borneo, an elephant rescue program in Sri Lanka, and a dog sterilisation clinic in Sri Lanka and Australia.
Natalie holds a degree in Journalism and a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne. She is a current appointed member of the Animal Ethics Committee for the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Melbourne.


With somewhat murky ancestral origins and a much maligned reputation in Australia, the dingo has long been considered a polarizing predator; both a cultural icon and livestock pest.

Perhaps no other predator is more deeply embedded in the Australian psyche than the dingo. Its history in Australia has grabbed headlines for more than a century, from the stolen baby in the infamous Azaria Chamberlain case to being the cause for the construction of the legendary Dingo Fence in 1885 to protect grazing lands, the dingo has entrenched itself deeply into the rich fabric of Australian culture.

Bearing a striking resemblance to the domestic dog, the dingo is currently listed as a subspecies of the grey wolf, though its exact ancestry is highly enigmatic and much debated. More recent research suggests that the dingo came to Australia via Southern China, anywhere between 4600 and 18,300 years ago.

Despite its flawed reputation, Australia’s largest terrestrial predator is also a vital component of healthy ecosystems in Australia and an important contributor to environmental recovery and the protection of threatened native species.

Considered one of the most vexing issues facing conservationists and agriculturalists alike, the dingo has haunted the Australian landscape for over 200 years.

The culling of dingoes is commonplace in Australia, and their numbers have fluctuated widely as a result. Government-run programs consenting the dingo cull are active across the country, with methods including poisoning, shooting and using sodium fluoroacetate.

The deadly drama of predators and their prey is often described as a prime example of natural selection in action, however, often overlooked is the role that humans play in these relationships, and how their meddlesome actions within precious ecosystems can have devastating consequences.

Most recently, the dingo has experienced catastrophic decline as a result of human persecution. Such a collapse of top predator populations is associated with dramatic upsurges of smaller predators. Known as the mesopredator theory, this trophic interaction has been witnessed heavily in Australia. Disruption to the number of dingoes has a cascading effect throughout entire ecosystems, initiating a surge of unchecked predation by lower species and an unravelling of bionetworks.

When dingo populations dwindle, foxes, feral cats, and kangaroos grow bolder. Foxes and cats eat large quantities of small mammals, while kangaroos destroy vegetation which smaller marsupials live in, leading to an equally controversial kangaroo cull.

Thus, the crucial role of the apex predator is undermined frequently. The story of the dingo is not unique. The apex predator has been continually persecuted throughout the world, and the results are almost always the same.

The impact that unregulated mesopredators have on ecosystems is something which has only recently been recognised. In 2006, scientists from James Cook University and Australian National University published a report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tracking the geographical relationship between dingoes, threatened species, and now-extinct species.
Their research suggests that dingoes actually aid the survival of smaller, more vulnerable species in Australia, and their presence is actually associated with the persistence of native Australian animals. By suppressing populations of introduced predators and larger herbivores, the dingo actually reduced the threat to native species. The study found that in areas where dingoes had been removed, most of the native mammal extinctions had occurred.

This complex ecological dynamic has been largely overlooked in Australia, and the war on dingoes has continued to rage, compromising their genetic strain, causing many dingo subspecies to fall extinct, and dooming much of Australia’s biodiversity.

If the dingo was entirely eliminated from Australia, then prey species would doubtlessly suffer. The dingo is not only a keystone species protecting mammal biodiversity in Australia, but it is the most significant constraint on the harmful potential of exotic predators. The notion that we must so thoroughly regulate and intervene in the wild is highly alarming, and the devastating impact it has on natural ecosystems is already being felt around the world.

Natalie Kyriacou

Featured image: “Dingo Perth Zoo SMC Sept 2005”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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