Tag Archives: species extinctions

Major plan launched to avert species extinction

The country’s flora and fauna draws millions of tourists from around the world. But scientists say Australia’s native species are under threat of extinction.

20 per cent of mammals and many more plant species are under threat. And scientists fear much of the country’s unique flora and fauna may not be around for future generations. Habitat loss, hunting and changes in fire regimes have contributed to the decline, with invasive species considered a primary ongoing threat.

A major bush conservation plan has been launched to help save native animals and plants under threat of extinction.

For example, Queensland School of Agriculture and Food Sciences Ecology Lecturer and PhD candidate Rebecca Diete said population estimates of some of Australia’s most elusive native animals often relied on indirect and potentially inaccurate measures. A tiny mammal, the endangered hopping mouse, could be closer to the brink of extinction than previously thought. Diete found that population estimates have relied on counting spoil heaps – the piles of sand left behind when the mouse digs burrows. However, she discovered that some spoil heaps believed to belong to the northern hopping mouse were made by a different animal – the delicate mouse (Pseudomys delicatulus). “Estimates of hopping mouse numbers made only from spoil heap assessments could be much higher than the reality,” she said.

Bush Heritage Science Plan

Since 1991, Bush Heritage Australia has applied a proven, practical approach to conserving Australia’s environment and unique plants and animals. One in five of Australia’s surviving mammals and 12% of Australia’s birds are now threatened with extinction. There remains an estimated shortfall of 70 million hectares of habitat across Australia (WWF, 2013) to secure a comprehensive, adequate and representative national reserve system.

Download from Bush Heritage Australia website.

This alone will not be enough. BHA believe we also require more effective management in need of protection of the extensive and pervasive threats impacting the viability of native animals, plants and ecosystems.

This ten-year Science Plan aims to build sustainable research partnerships in each state and territory and double the number of collaborative research projects we undertake by 2025. Their research will be focused on six flagship research themes, each pivotal to our work, and which address key biodiversity conservation issues in Australia.

African lovegrass is a weed which dominates the heavily cultivated soils of Scottsdale Reserve, a former grazing property 75 kilometres south of Canberra. Few trees have survived decades of farming. Instead it’s the introduced thistles with their dried, discoloured flowers which stand tall.

In some countries African lovegrass is regarded as valuable for animal production and soil conservation but in others, such as Australia, it is regarded as a weed due to its low feed quality and acceptance by livestock.

Bush Heritage Australia started rehabilitating the land after purchasing the 1328-hectare property in 2006. Scottsdale Reserve was the launch site (8th April, 2015) for an ambitious project to study the reasons behind Australia’s massive rate of biodiversity loss. Australian National University ecologist Dr David Freudenberger is among 50 scientists collaborating on the project. “Scottsdale Reserve is a living classroom for my students, at understanding the challenges of restoring the grassy woodland,” he said.

The existing long-term research project on Scottsdale Reserve involves restoring grassy eucalypt woodlands. They engaged 500 volunteers, who hand-planted native shrubs and trees in one of the largest woodland restoration efforts in the nation.

scottsdale-planting(image:Scottsdale Reserve planting)

Dr Jim Radford, science and research manager at Bush Heritage Australia said native mammals, such as bilbies, bettongs, bandicoots and gliders, are in an “absolutely dire” situation. One key priority is adding up to 70 million extra hectares to Australia’s national parks and reserve system.

Rufus_bettong(image: Rufus Bettong)

Research Themes

Research theme 1: Landscape connectivity

Research theme 2: Threatened species

Research theme 3: Habitat refugia

Research theme 4: Fire ecology

Research theme 5: Restoration evaluation

Research theme 6: Introduced species/feral animals

The Bush Heritage Science Plan aims to double their science and research output by 2025 through building sustainable long-term research partnerships and doubling the number of collaborative research projects they undertake. Funding will be through scholarships, grants and internships. As part of the plan, 50 scientists from 15 universities across the country will collaborate on 55 conservation projects, and they hope to raise $20 million to fund it.

$20 million in Treasury terms is very small, and is minute compared to infrastructure spending on our own habitats, and what’s spent to propagate our own species! Donating and participating in this Science Plan is an investment into our natural heritage, and ensure that future generations are condemned to only seeing once common native species in museums, or in zoos!

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Perth’s lethal urban sprawl killing off Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos

Flocks of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos winging their way to their evening roost sites has been a familiar sight around Perth for decades. Their days are numbered!
Updated research from BirdLife Australia shows that flocks are getting smaller as the population of these large, white-tailed, black-cockatoos declines each year.

600 people took part in Birdlife Australia’s Great Cocky Count, earlier this year, but the minimum number of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos recorded in the Greater Perth–Peel Region was 5518 birds, continuing the drop in numbers from previous years’ counts. Records have shown a significant, ongoing decline in their population, a reduction in flock size as well as fewer occupied roost sites around Perth.

(image: Birdlife Australia- http://birdlife.org.au/projects/southwest-black-cockatoo-recovery)

This is not an evolutionary trend, due to climate change or other environmental trends, but deliberate habitat destruction! “Perth suburbs continue to expand into the bushland that traditionally supported black-cockatoos. So the black-cockatoos moved into the pine plantations for food and shelter, but now these plantations are being cleared and not replaced.” Thanks mainly to ridiculously high immigration levels, the human population continue to swell, and the deadly threat of urban sprawl spreads like the metastasis of cancer!

Perth’s deadly urban sprawl is heating up the metropolitan area and driving out native animal species, according to an Environmental Protection Authority report. The EPA said species that were present at the time of settlement had disappeared from the region, including 12 mammals such as the numbat, while 46 bird species were in decline and many plants were threatened with extinction. Between 2001 and 2009, some 6,812 hectares of natural bush were cleared within the Perth metropolitan region alone.

Perth’s human population grew by 2.5 per cent in the 12 months to June 2014 – an extra 48,400 people – with 2.02 million people now calling Greater Perth home. New plans mapping out locations to develop 800,000 new homes in Perth and Peel to accommodate for a future population of 3.5 million have been released by the WA Government. The cost of “progress” ignores the environmental costs, and the loss to native species!

Perth’s urban sprawl could be stopped if some of the city’s open space including parks and gardens – is sacrificed for housing! There’s never the option of slowing down our population growth! The pressure is to make the city “more compact”.

The Carnaby’s black cockatoo is one of only two species of white-tailed black cockatoo in the world. The other is the Baudin’s black cockatoo. Both are unique to Southwest Australia.

Half of Perth’s bird species have suffered declines since European settlement. Department of Parks and Wildlife senior wildlife officer Rick Dawson said at the time that 85 Carnaby’s Cockatoos had been killed on the road in eight weeks – a major blow for a species that’s declined from a wild population of 150,000 to between 20,000 and 60,0000 in 30 years.

Black Cockatoos are just another victim of ongoing human greed for economic growth, capitalistic growth, a Colonial frontier mentality, over-population destroying Nature and adding more species to our threatened/extinct list!

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