Tag Archives: threatened species

Great Forest National Park urgently needed

Great Forest National Park needs your pledge.

Victoria is still far from having a comprehensive, adequate and representative national park and conservation system, and most major threats to nature identified in past reviews are still very much with us – habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, harmful fire regimes, over-grazing, modified water flows. Precious habitat remnants are being bulldozed for urban expansion or roads. Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia, populations of native birds and animals are in freefall, and less than 25% of our rivers and creeks are in good condition.

The Great Forest National Park proposes that Victorians create and add a new 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The basis for this tenure change is weighed scientifically, socially and economically against 5 key reasons;

1. Conservation of near extinct wildlife and plants after Black Saturday and in light of future fire events.

2. Water catchments of Melbourne, LaTrobe and the Goulburn Murray systems. The largest area of clean water and catchment in Victoria. Food bowl and community security.

3. Tourism. This is Victoria’s richest ecological asset, but these magnificent forests have not yet been included in a state plan to encourage tourism. Our rural towns want and need this boost to tourism.

4. Climate. These ash forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. They sequester carbon, modulate the climate and can act as giant storage banks to absorb excess carbon if they are not logged. The financial opportunity in carbon credits is significant and can be paid directly to the state when a system is established federally.

5. Places of spiritual nourishment. These magnificent forests have been described as a ‘keeping place’ by the traditional owners, a place to secure the story of the land and places of spiritual nourishment that we pass on to future generations. There should be no price tag on the value nature brings to mental health and spiritual well-being.

The tallest flowering trees on Earth grow north-east of Melbourne. In their high canopies dwell owls, gliders and the tiny Leadbeater’s (or Fairy) Possum. Victoria’s precious and endangered faunal emblem lives only in these ash forests of the Central Highlands.

Mountain_Ash_in_Victoria(image: Mountain Ash, Black Spur, Victoria)

David Lindenmayer, from the Australian National University, is an ecologist and conservation biologist who has spent over 30 years studying the Mountain Ash Forest of Victoria.

‘There’s a little mixture of things that always want to have the last word. The Lyrebird is one and the Kookaburra is another and the Eastern Yellow Robin and the Pilot Bird are two others,’ he says.

Eastern_yellow_robin(image: Eastern Yellow Robin, Victoria)

‘The birds are calling less than in the morning, but still nevertheless calling, and they’re just confirming their territories before there’s an extraordinary change in the light in this long dusk period,’
says Lindenmayer.

The Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum, are threatened by ongoing clear-felling and bushfires.
The population of large old hollow-bearing trees has collapsed. These are a critical habitat for the animals that use them, including Leadbeater’s Possum. There is a high risk that the possums will become exinct in the next 20-40 years.


(image source: http://www.greatforestnationalpark.com.au/park-plan.html)

Home to threatened species, including Victoria’s animal emblem – the Fairy Possum, the proposed park will also be a sanctuary, providing real and lasting protection to some of Victoria’s, and the world’s, rarest plant and animal species. Prominent environmentalists Tim Flannery and Bob Brown have lent their support to the campaign. Sir David Attenborough has weighed into the state election, backing a call for the creation of a Great Forest National Park to protect the state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum.

The environmentalist’s intervention comes as a survey found 89 per cent of Victorians support the creation of a new national park in the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands.

Logging over many years had previously reduced the Leadbeater’s possum down to a fraction of its original range and now only around one per cent of mountain ash forest is old growth. A new ‘taskforce’ attempts to negotiate the future of the logging industry in the central highlands of Victoria and the possible creation of the new national park, in light of the critical status of Leadbeater’s Possums.

The state government — elected in November — has so far made no official commitment to the proposed 355,000-hectare Great Forest National Park, which would include both recreational areas and conservation zones.


The good news is that the Victorian Government has given its strongest indication yet that it is open to ending clearfelling and closing down the hardwood timber industry in key parts of Victoria’s Central Highlands to prevent the extinction of the Leadbeater’s Possum.

‘The time for further reviews and studies is over. The only thing that will save Leadbeater’s Possums from extinction is to immediately stop the clearfell logging of the forest it lives in,’
Greens Senator Rice said.

Join the Great Forest National Park Volunteer Campaign Team. Text ‘GFNP volunteer’ to 0428 029 437. http://wilderness.org.au/articles/great-forest-national-park#sthash.UHAmATbg.dpuf

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Possible Federal Government EPBC de-listing of endangered species – Southern Brown Bandicoot.

In 2014, a Mammal Action Plan (MAP) was set up by the Federal Government Environment Department under authority of Minister Greg Hunt.
Among many recommendations put forward by the MAP, five early recommendations included Isoodon obesulus obesulus (Southern Brown Bandicoot (South-East)) which has been tentatively recommended to be de-listed from EPBC protection.

The reason given was that there have been too many referrals.
This does not mean SBB are in surplus, it simply reflects the obvious increasing number of applications for approval of residential/commercial development and infrastructure in locations where there are listed species and environmental constraints.

If SBB is de-listed from EPBC protection , current conservation management strategies will no longer be in place and future survival of SBB could be at risk where habitat loss occurs.

The process of listing or de-listing recommended species has several stages, one of which is to receive public comment via submissions. This opportunity will close on Friday 30th January 2015.

Due to absence of information about the MAP proposal to de-list SBB, there is little time.

Please act by lodging a submission requesting that SBB remain listed under the protection of EPBC legislation.

Gloria O’Connor

Environment South East Alliance
26th January 2015
Addendum:  SBB are now extinct at Mornington Peninsula and Frankston.

SBB were in Oakleigh in 1980’s, quarries, market gardens but eventually became extinct.
SBB also went extinct in City of Kingston (Braeside Reserve, Rowan Woodlands, The Grange) in 1990’s.

This proposal is simply based on greed for housing profits, and a blatant elimination of a natural constraint to more housing developments on crucial SBB habitat!  This vandalism of the EPBC Act, by an Environment Minister, is unacceptable!

Forward comment to:
Email: species.consultation@environment.gov.au
Mail to: Marine and Freshwater Species Conservation Section Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division Department of the Environment, PO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601
View consultation documentation available on Dept. of Environment website or by circulated information through community group networks.

Southern_Brown_Bandicoot_juvenile(image: juvenile Southern Brown Bandicoot)

Update: Submissions can be accepted up to the 27th February.

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Seabird numbers plummeting

A recent study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that marine systems are apparently becoming gradually less able to support seabirds. The study focused on populations that scientists had monitored at least five times between 1950 and 2010, which accounted for 19 percent of the world’s seabird population, encompassing 162 species.

They found the monitored (19%) portion of the global seabird population to have declined overall by 69.7% between 1950 and 2010. The researchers found that during that period the monitored seabird populations declined by 69.7 percent.

Human activities such as fisheries and pollution are threatening the world’s marine ecosystems, causing changes to species abundance and distribution that alter ecosystem structure, function and resilience. In response, increasing numbers of marine biologists and managers seek to achieve management measures allowing the persistence of healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems.

Seabird population changes are good indicators of long-term and large-scale change in marine ecosystems because seabird populations are relatively well-monitored, their ecology allows them to integrate long-term and large-scale signals. So, the implication is that our oceans are not supporting seabirds, and they are sick! Threats include entanglement in fishing gear, overfishing of food sources, climate change, pollution, disturbance, direct exploitation, development, energy production, and introduced species (predators such as rats and cats introduced to breeding islands that were historically free of land-based predators). These are all related to lethal “human activities”.

(image: http://www.scscb.org/working_groups/resources/seabird-resources.htm)

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species indicates that one third of seabird species are threatened with extinction, one half are known or suspected to be in decline, and at least four species are extinct.

One big game-changer for seabirds over the last century has been the industrialization of fishing, which has depleted seabirds’ food sources. Other threats include entanglement in fishing gear and oceanic pollution.

Because of the El Nino weather phenomenom that is happening across the Pacific, scientists say the ocean is just too warm right now. “It really limits the productivity of the ocean from the base level so in the case of the common murre which feeds on small fish, these are not as plentiful as they normally are during a normal ocean condition year,” explained Herman Biederbeck, ODFW biologist for the north coast.

Our oceans are dying. Time is rapidly running out for the world’s oceans and the creatures that live in them as the Earth’s climate continues to warm, say scientists. Their analysis showed that ‘business-as-usual’ would have an enormous and ‘effectively irreversible’ impact on ocean ecosystems and the services they provide, such as fisheries, by 2100.

Mankind has probably done more damage to the Earth in the 20th century than in all of previous human history.
Jacques Yves Cousteau

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Sharks: 450 million years of survival, but may be gone within decades

Researchers found that up to a quarter of the planet’s well-known marine species, from the Mediterranean monk seal to the Pondicherry shark, are in danger of being wiped out. This overturns the conventional scientific wisdom that marine species are far safer than other terrestrial species. In each case, between 20 and 25 per cent of species are threatened with extinction

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean, and in this role they keep populations of other fish healthy and thus prevent them over-feeding.   They are a  “keystone” species, meaning that removing them would causes the whole food chain structure to collapse.

Sharks have survived for 450 million years, but may be gone within the next decades.  Keeping marine ecosystems healthy is not optional!

Due to overfishing, commercial fleets are forced to go deeper in the ocean and further down the food chain for viable catches.  As such, like their terrestrial counterparts, the mass extinctions of fish, marine mammals and other aquatic life could occur within decades.

A top-order predator with a menacing appearance that belies its calm nature, the grey nurse shark’s east coast Australian population is struggling to survive, with only an estimated 500 left. Eating almost any kind of fish, crustacean, sharks, rays and squid, this predator is key in maintaining a balance in the marine ecosystem along the Australian coastline. While hunting this shark was legal in 19th century, poaching the fish has been common throughout the 1900s.

Critically endangered:

Glyphis garricki (Northern River Shark)
Glyphis glyphis (Speartooth Shark)
Carcharias taurus (Grey Nurse Shark, east coast population)

(image: Grey nurse shark)

Overfishing and depleted fish stocks could be the reason sharks are seen around shores. Sharks are already heavily threatened by over-fishing, and they are important apex predators that help in the health of our oceans.

Sharks belong in the ocean, and it’s their home.  They are necessary in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.  We can’t drain the oceans, and kill more endangered wildlife.  It’s time to get things more in perspective and realise that there are risks to everything we do.

“Culling” sharks, and the death of other non-target species that will be hooked, can’t guarantee safety on the beaches.  In fact the Western Australia shark kill program could dangerously create a false sense of security, leading to more fatalities.   It’s a case of those entering the ocean need to be aware of apex predators, and take precautions.

Two experts from the University of WA’s Oceans Institute say a cull would make little difference to the number of people being attacked every year.  “Before suggesting we cull economically and ecologically important shark species, with no scientific assessment of their populations, we need to educate people about the risks involved when entering the ocean.”

The ocean is a dangerous place, and more people drown each year than are taken by sharks.

Shark “culls” futile
Surf Life Saving South Australia suggests that there is a “much higher risk of drowning at the beach.. than from being bitten or killed by a shark”.  A NSW university study found that, on average, 21 people drown in rips around Australia each year, compared with eight killed in cyclones and six in bushfires.

When shark culling was carried out in Hawaii between 1959 and 1976, more than 4500 were killed. Control programs have not had measurable effects on the rate of shark attacks there. Western Australia’s cull is based on pressure to ”do” something for human safety, however ineffective.

Those entering into the sphere of apex predators should take full precautions, but this killing plan could give false assurances of safety.

Sharks do not deliberately target people! It’s  an anthropomorphic and paranoiac reaction to imagine they are out to find human prey, or make any conscious efforts to track humans. If a shark sees a human splashing in the water, it may try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack.

There has been 20 fatal shark attacks in WA in the past 100 years – seven of them in the past three years.  WA has experienced a massive population growth in recent years, with almost two-thirds of the state’s total growth coming from migration.  Rather than more misanthropic sharks, there’s more people are in the water!

The best way to avoid lethal shark attacks is to take appropriate precautions.  Entering the territory of apex predators should naturally include precautionary tactics, not the cull of the animals that are an important part of marine ecosystems.

A report titled “Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks” finds that based on an estimated total global biomass, this accounts for between 6.4% and 7.9% of all sharks killed per year – most simply for their fins, while the rest of the animal is dumped in the sea.

Some sharks denied protection in Australia
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals gave new protection status to 31 migratory species at a conference in November. However, Australia is submitting a “reservation” to ensure a recent international listing granting protection status to three species of thresher shark and two species of hammerhead does not take effect in Australian waters. Humane Society International has described the move as an “unprecedented act of domestic and international environmental vandalism”.

Yet, our Abbott government is willing to be the environmental pariah of the world, with heavy axing of funding to science and research, a denial of action on climate change, and now is backing away from its international obligations by opting out of protecting five shark species!

Environment Minister Greg Hunt is myopically more concerned about the economic welfare of recreational fishers?  This “environmental vandalism” shows a complete lack of vision, and scope, in government policy-making!

In Mr Baird’s first election policy commitment, he said $100,000 would be spent on a technology trial at popular beaches. Surf life saving clubs will also be given specialist training and shark deterrent equipment.
“One thing we will not be doing in NSW is culling sharks,” said Mr Baird.

Western Australia

More than 100 of the world’s 370 plus species of shark live in Western Australian waters.
These range from the 30cm pygmy shark to the world’s biggest fish, the gentle whale shark, which grows up to 12m long and is a popular feature of the WA aquatic tourism industry.

The presence of many species of shark as ‘apex predators’ – occupying the top level of the food chain – is an indication of a healthy marine environment.

September 11, 2014:
The Environmental Protection Authority recommended against the WA government implementing its shark kill zones for the next three summers and Premier Colin Barnett ruled out using drum lines this coming summer.
What You Can Do:
Donate money to support Sea Shepherd’s direct action campaigns.

  • Don’t buy or consume shark products.
  • Vocally oppose restaurants and shops that sell shark products; demand that they stop.
  • Educate others on the plight of sharks and their importance to the ecosystem.
  • Encourage everyone you know to watch the award-winning documentary Sharkwater.

Call on Premier Baird to remove lethal shark nets

Greenpeace – Action

Save WA sharks and stop the cull

CommunityRun:save the shark

Raise awareness about shark finning and make it illegal

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Vale Martin Copley AM, 1940-2014

On 30 July 2014, Australia lost one of its great conservationists and philanthropists when Martin Copley AM passed away.MartinCopley

Martin was born in Britain and he became a successful insurance underwriter. He first visited Australia in 1966. In 1991 he purchased a property containing a large area of natural bushland at Chidlow, Western Australia, now the Karakamia Sanctuary, for conservation purposes, effectively founding what was to become the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC). In 1994 he moved to Australia permanently. Martin is survived by his partner Valentine, three children and six grandchildren.

“Our wild world is disappearing in numerous ways: loss of species, habitat destruction, declining water and air quality, and increasingly saline and shallow topsoils“, he said.  The Gouldian finch,  once widespread across northern Australia – could be the symbol of a continent in danger. Most Australians will never get to see the Gouldian finch, except perhaps in a cage. It’s estimated there are only hundreds remaining in the wild.

Martin will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest conservationists and philanthropists. It is impossible to adequately describe the extent of Martin’s immense contribution to conservation.

Even in the early 1990s,Martin had a vision of a new, non-profit model for conservation– a model that could help lead the way in reversing Australia’s extinction crisis. Martin established Karakamia – AWC’s first sanctuary – in the Perth Hills. Even then, Martin had a vision of a new, non-profit model for conservation– a model that could help lead the way in reversing Australia’s extinction crisis.

Among his many extraordinary achievements, perhaps Martin’s greatest legacy – his greatest gift to the Woylies, Gouldian Finches and Bilbies – is his success over the last two decades in realising that vision.

Copley was thrilled to observe small creatures with alien names such as woylie, numbat and quokka slowly reappearing on the landscape. So much of Australia is tragically lacking these oddly named creatures, he says. “I always feel these places are alive, yet when you go into a national park, it often seems dead – a few birds and kangaroos but not the diversity.”

AWC has grown to 23 properties covering 3 million hectares across Australia. These properties protect 83% of Australia’s terrestrial bird species and 67% of its terrestrial mammal species including some of the largest remaining populations of threatened species such as the Bilby, Sharman’s Rock-wallaby and the Purple-crowned Fairy-wren.

Mr Copley’s environmental legacy is the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which now watches over more than three million hectares of land. Mr Copley, 74, showed by example that eliminating feral cats and foxes allowed animals such as woylies and bandicoots to play their role in managing the landscape. Martin’s fencing-off of huge areas of bush has shown how healthy Australian ecosystems can function. The native animals become the cultivators and tillers of soil, dramatically reducing leaf litter build-up, which helps change the fire regime and ecological structure of an area.

Martin Copley has done more than anyone to safeguard Australia’s biodiversity and endangered species.  According to Tim Flannery, Copley is “an absolute standout” who has made “an extraordinary contribution” in his field.

April 2015: Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is pleased to report that the wild Bilby population at Scotia is now estimated to be more than 1,200 animals. Together with a second population at Yookamurra, AWC protects approximately 15% of the entire Bilby population (estimated at less than 10,000 animals across Australia). Sadly, the Bilby population across the rest of Australia is in a state of ongoing decline, primarily as a result of feral cats and foxes. The last wild Bilby population in Queensland is now estimated at only 200 animals after a catastrophic decline driven by feral cats.

The Easter Bilby is an Australian symbol of Easter, to replace the Easter Bunny. Very young children are indoctrinated with the concept that bunnies are nice soft fluffy creatures whereas in reality they are Australia’s greatest environmental feral pest and cause enormous damage to the arid zone.

Australian Wildlife Conservacy
Subiaco East WA 6008
Ph: +61 8 9380 9633

Save the Bilby Fund
Email: admin@savethebilbyfund.org

PO Box 260, Runaway Bay, Qld, 4216

Phone: 0405 384 351
Fax: (07) 5563 8612

The Australian Bilby Appreciation Society
(featured image: Bilby is from their website)

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