Tag Archives: urban sprawl

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.

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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Brutal “conservation cull” of ACT kangaroos – carnage wrapped in environmental language!

More than 2,600 Kangaroos to be violently slaughtered in 2017, based on what’s condemned by wildlife carers as fraudulent flawed Acts, Plans. and Strategies.  

The closures will start from Wednesday, May 17, in Canberra and Googong Foreshores.

This carnage will occur at 12 sites,  closed for what’s ironically, and contradictorily called a “conservation cull”. 

The sites are Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Mount Majura Nature Reserve and adjacent territory land, Kama Nature Reserve, Mount Painter Nature Reserve and adjacent territory land, The Pinnacle Nature Reserve and adjacent unleased land, Mount Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserves, …Callum Brae Nature Reserve, East Jerrabomberra Grasslands, West Jerrabomberra Nature Reserve, and Googong Foreshores.  These “Nature” reserves will be shut to the public while they are killing fields!

These violent killings are not culls, and are not for Conservation purposes. Our Kangaroos being driven to extinction, weakening the species genetically altering our Kangaroos committed by over killing and the infertility programs.

Danger- do not enter

(image: Animals Australia)

So “nature” doesn’t include native kangaroos?  What’s not “native” about the conservation of kangaroos?  Eastern Grey Kangaroos (EGK) are now maligned as a threat to Nature, and on the level of feral, invasive species?

The closures will start from Wednesday, May 17, in Canberra and Googong Foreshores. 

“The conservation cull… is needed to protect biodiversity and maintain populations at appropriate levels to minimise impacts on other flora and fauna in critical grassland and woodland sites,” Director of parks and conservation Daniel Iglesias says.  He says that the “culling of overabundant kangaroos is currently the most humane method of population control available to the ACT Government as a responsible land manager…”.

So according to park manager, Iglesias, employed by the ACT government, EGK are not part of our nation’s biodiversity, and are NOT part of our flora and fauna – they only “impact” on it and destroy it?

Just what empirical evidence supports his assumption that the kangaroos are “over abundant”?  In a report and map prepared by field ecologist Ray Mjadwesch in 2013, Professor Garlick said eastern grey kangaroos were already gone from 26.6 per cent of the territory because of urban land use, and a further 29.9 per cent of the animals were under pressure.

Literature written by ecologist Dan Ramp (University of NSW) describes the importance of kangaroos in protecting threatened and endangered species from decline:-

‘Native herbivores such as kangaroos and wombats, play a vital role in ecosystem functioning but are often victimized and treated with lack of concern because of socio-political factors and historical value judgements rather than heeding biological and ecological information.’


According to Lady Nora Preston, Western Creek, (Wildlife Carers Group Inc)  the Animal Welfare and Management Strategy 2017-2022 should protect all animals, and recognise  animals as being sentient beings.  It’s contradictory with regards to:

1. the violent Nature Conservation Act 2014

2. the violent Eastern Grey Kangaroos Draft Controlled Native Species Management Plan:

3. the violent Code of Practice,

4. the Ethics Committee that allows violence and suffering

5. the Kangaroo Management Plan

6. the ACT Kangaroo Management Plan (ACT Government 2010) and subsidiary policy instruments

7. Draft ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy 2011-2021: https://wildlifecarersgroup.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/amendments-darting-currawongs-rspca-draft-act-pest-animal-management-strategy-2011-2021/

8. Draft ACT Native Grasslands Conservation Strategy – https://wildlifecarersgroup.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/wildlife-carers-group-submission-draft-act-native-grasslands-conservation-strategy-closes-12-may-2017/ that is consistent with

9. the ACT Nature Conservation Strategy 2013-23 (ACT Government 2013a) and

10. their accusation is that the  2005 Lowland Grassland Conservation Strategy is all based on (allegedly) fraudulent reports on the Eastern Grey Kangaroos, etc.

There’s a difference between the science of zoology, conservation, environmental science and being a park-ranger manager!  Management of a park, or Nature reserve, clearly is not based on promoting natural systems, or supporting flora and fauna.  Rather it is based  on manipulating what governments dictate and then wrapping the policies in neat, environmental-language to make it sound like legitimate “conservation”.  No doubt the real motive for this “conservation cull” of native kangaroos is not about protecting other species, or grasslands, but a more prosaic way of limiting vehicle accidents, and releasing more land for urban sprawl!

This so-called “conservation cull” is human-based, and it’s “junk science” to fit what’s already deemed a fact that there’s an “over-abundance” of kangaroos in the ACT – once called the Bush Capital!

Once land is “vacant”, and devoid, of the more obvious native animals – kangaroos- then it’s seemingly barren, only suitable for “development”  – aka urban sprawl.

The area below is called Lawson,  and is a ‘land development site‘.  It covers the entire naval base. So much for the government’s worry about vulnerable species being in this area – which is the same reason they gave why the kangaroos had to be killed.


(image:  Above: the place at Lawson, ACT., Australia, where 500 kangaroos were herded and killed in 2008.  http://www.kangaroolives.com/condemned.htm)

(image: There were plans to build 1850 dwellings plus 199 single residential at Lawson, 2013. ACT government.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-04/buyers-snap-up-land-at-new-canberra-suburb-of-lawson/5133156.  So how will the vulnerable species fare?)

Out of 41 Submissions that were received, 31 Submissions opposed this Eastern Grey Kangaroos Draft Controlled Native Species Management Plan, and only 10 Submissions supported this Plan. A good enough reason NOT to go ahead with this Plan and to abolish it.  So why have these “submissions” matter at all if they have already decided that maligned policy of “culling”?


(image: Kangaroos run from an official in a vehicle on the base.The driver, incidentally, drives straight across the 'vulnerable' grasslands. Sunset, March 31, 2008  http://www.kangaroolives.com/condemned.htm )

(featured image: Animals Australia http://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/in_the_news.php?article=3345)

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Cassowary – the decline of the World’s Most Dangerous Bird

The southern cassowary is the world’s third largest bird. It is one of Australia’s largest land animals and plays a unique role in the ecology of the World Heritage listed rainforests of tropical Australia. They stand between 1.5-2 metres in height and both sexes are similar in appearance. Adults are striking with their glossy black plumage and bright blue neck with touches of red. The female is larger than the male and is also the more aggressive of the two.

If you can see them that means you are too close and should take immediate protection. If you turn your back and run the bird will take that as a sign of weakness and will come after you at 50km ph (30 mph), which is faster than any human can run. The Guinness Book Of Records lists the Cassowary as the most dangerous bird in the world.

In evolutionary terms, the flightless birds (or ratites) were some of the earliest types of birds to develop. The cassowary, emu, rhea, kiwi and ostrich are still around today, but others, like the moas of New Zealand and the elephant bird of Madagascar are now extinct.

Cassowaries are very difficult to study because they lead solitary lives and live in dense tropical rainforest and remote and rugged terrain, so there is still much we don’t know about them.

Until recently, the remaining wild population was thought to be at around 2000. However, new research by the CSIRO estimates that the cassowary population may be more than double that at around 4400.



Queensland government data shows that this year alone at least 10 cassowaries have died because of human involvement. Six were struck by cars and four were killed by dogs.

Rainforest vegetation has been extensively cleared, particularly in lowland areas. By 1997, 81% of native vegetation had been cleared, and remaining rainforest habitat was substantially fragmented.

Roads are a major cause of direct cassowary mortality due to vehicle strikes. Roads can also fragment and degrade cassowary habitat; impose barriers on cassowary movement patterns; and hasten the spread of invasive species.

Property Developers

Land is being cleared by property developers, the precious “Daintree rainforest is for sale on the open market with the guarantee of destruction from property development with DA approval already granted and council approved house plans included with the sale,” says the group. “Rare and endangered species such as southern cassowaries have been identified here”.

Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl and coastal development along the aptly named Cassowary Coast now threatens the Cassowaries that have survived agricultural land-clearing. There have been in excess of 60 cassowaries killed by cars over the last 20 years in the Mission Beach area alone. Five recent reported deaths in three months attest to this.

Population growth

Cairns and the Far North have been tipped to become home to more than 500,000 people by 2050 – double today’s population. The region is the most populous in Northern Australia with 278,064 people and it is expected to more than double to 550,887 by 2050.

Liz Gallie is the president of Mission Beach Cassowaries says “the cassowary is a keystone species of the rainforest,” and “the current planning scheme would allow Mission Beach’s population to reach 18,000, which is incompatible with the survival of the cassowary. Development is still seen by the local authorities and tourism organisations as the economic driver and is encouraged. It is an oxymoron”.


Save the habitat of Australia’s ancient Cassowaries

ForceChange: Save Rare and Beautiful Cassowaries from Extinction

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De-listing of the Southern Brown Bandicoot- an act of vandalism to promote urban sprawl

Delisting of the Southern Brown Bandicoot

The Director

Marine and Freshwater Species Conservation Section

Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division

Department of the Environment

PO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601

I’ve been involved with Southern Brown Bandicoots (SBB) for more than 40 years. I live in Frankston where I remember SBBs all over the Mornington Peninsula, in the Frankston area and in the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve where they were recognised as the largest and strongest colony in the region. Sadly, I have observed them gradually disappearing from all of these areas and in many of these places they have become extinct.

How could this be allowed to happen? Since 2001, went on the endangered list, a SBB recovery group was established. SBBs were selected as the flagship species in the Western Port Biosphere Reserve so they would receive special attention. At least five major workshops were held involving hundreds of people, among them scientists, government agencies, private consultants and landholders. In addition, countless meetings of the SBB recovery team were held at many places. During this time the Victorian government created strategies for the recovery and protection of them but none work.

Sadly, no SBBs or habitat areas were recovered anywhere in this region. At the Pines, where some SBBs were still remaining, at least $120,000 was spent on fox and cat control. It was unsuccessful and the last SBBs were lost as well. It is now high time to admit to the grand failure in protecting this species especially in this region.

As I understand, SBBs are not a corridor living species and need to be provided with habitat in large reserves like Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne and could be in the Pines Reserve, Briars Park in Mt Martha & several other reserves that are surrounded by a predator-proof fence. We desperately need some insurance colonies before we gamble with the rest that still survive in the wild.

If this current scenario continues, we will soon reach the point where the SBB species will collapse as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot did. At the lowest stage, only 50 animals survived.

Captive breeding had to prevent them from becoming extinct on the mainland. Even after numbers increased, the government managed to make some huge blunders with them.


(image: This little fellow was photographed in the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens.  This area is ~350 hectares of native bushland including an “Australian Garden”.  http://www.chappo1.com/brown%20bandicoot.html )

Why have we not learned from this? My question is: what is gained by delisting SBBs? Will the government be able to save some money on fox and cat control and will developers receive the green light to build houses in bandicoot habitat? We certainly have not been told everything. To declare SBBs safe because in one or two areas where fox control slightly increased their numbers is absolutely ridiculous. Take that money away and see what will happen.

Hans Brunner M. App. Sc. Deakin University

HB:  While threats, and extinction, are normal processes of evolution, what we have now is not normal, or avoidable.  The loss of another iconic native mammal is a deliberate action, a choice to prioritize housing growth, urban sprawl, over habitats. 

This de-listing of the SBB is not because their threats have been mitigated, and now there are abundant, safe colonies!  On the contrary, their habitats will be invaded and their lives destroyed.

In a void of manufacturing, mining, innovation and technological advances, housing growth- driven by high levels of immigration – is a major industry now.  It means swallowing up grasslands, native vegetation, digging up fertile soils, and stagnating it all with concrete, roads and housing!

De-listing the SSB is an act of vandalism, and a sacrificing of another species in Australia to the already growing list of threatened and extinct species. AWPC Editor

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Ecologist Hans Brunner’s response to the DEWLP Southern Brown Bandicoot Implementation Plan

James Todd | Director Knowledge and Decision Systems | Biodiversity Division
Environment & Climate Change | Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
Level 2, 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

Dear James,

In spite of the massive input that has already been done for the Southern Brown Bandicoot implementation plan, I still have some serious doubt about a best possible outcome at this stage. It appears that my many evaluations of the proposed corridors presented to DELWP have been totally ignored.

It seems that the long, too narrow, costly and unproven corridors are going to remain as the core solution regardless of everything else.

My I ask then why the corridor from the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) to the Pines is still seriously considered while there are no plans to protect SBB’s in the Pines,( if they can actually get there), the same way as they are at the RBGC? This, and the other three corridors are all open ended and do not lead into other and well protected colonies.

As to the Population Viability Assessment (PVA), much discussion went on about it. My question is, has there been a PVA applied to the proposed corridor solution and if so, I would like to obtain a detailed copy of it. As far as I am concerned, a proper PVA would have to dismally fail the present concept.

Since there is already $ 20m wasted on underpasses in the Pines , I would not like to see another $20 to 30 million wasted on these corridors while there is no money left for the proper protection of SBB;s in a number of reserves surrounded by a predator proof fence. This is my solution.

And finally, it appears to me that when environmental issues are dealt with in the same department as there is planning, there could well be a conflict of interest to occur.

I am happy to discuss my points with any one, possibly over the phone.

Yours concerned.

Hans Brunner.


We appreciate Hans Brunner’s effort (image above) to negotiate a solution to the threats to the Southern Brown Bandicoot in Victoria, Cranbourne area.  Such is the political and economic power of the housing industry, habitat will be lost and the threatening process is one that can’t easily be mitigated.

The forecast human population of Cranbourne, 2016, was 297,000 and by 2041, 492,497, a whopping 68.5% increase in this period!  Hardly leave much habitat for SBB!  They are to be sacrificed so that property developers, and real estate investors, can continue rolling out urban sprawl – and big profits.

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It’s our national duty to protect endangered species

It’s our national duty to protect native endangered species, not sacrifice them to urban sprawl.


Dear Minister Hunt,

I am writing to you in regards to the Southern Brown Bandicoots (SBB) in Cranbourne area, as per the ABC news on Sunday night, 28th February.

This devastation is happening in YOUR electorate, and it’s shameful that there is no voice from you as Environment Minister?

These SBB are already threatened, and there are so many native species in our growing threatened species list!   Why wasn’t the fox-proof fence built, that was already funded?  Why will the animals have to go, for HOUSING!  We have enough houses in our city, and why do we need MORE destructive urban sprawl?  People are not a threatened species, and an economy relying on building houses is shallow and destructive!

The small brown marsupial is listed as nationally endangered.  There is no point in saying their numbers are sufficient elsewhere!

Australia is a land famous for our rich biodiversity, but it seems our decision-makers, including you,  are intent on destroying as much as possible of it – and in this case simply to appease property developers!

It was decided that there was no benefit to be gained from the wildlife corridors, but this is NOT about monetary gain.  The Victorian Government’s own bandicoot strategy said the corridors were not “cost effective”.   It’s incompatible with urban sprawl.  We have a legal obligation to protect our natural heritage, and “cost” is irrelevant as there is already funds available.  They have intrinsic value, and are part of our natural heritage.  Where’s the “cost effective” policy for urban sprawl?

These delightful little suburban battlers were once common in our southern suburbs, and now just a few remain in the Pines Flora and Fauna Sanctuary at Cranbourne.  A patch of bush in the back blocks of Frankston on Melbourne’s urban edge is just 10 kilometres from the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens.

Peninsula Link spent $20 million of taxpayers’ money on an underpass, and handed over $1.6 million to Parks Victoria for the fence.  But Parks Victoria never built the fence.  Where’s the money for the SBB now?  Bandicoots don’t need corridors, but their habitat protected.

We have the EPBC and our Wildlife Act, and are set up to PROTECT our native species, so why isn’t this Act being implemented and enforced?  It seems that the major contributors to our environmental threats are somehow and conveniently exempt  from prosecution, and from limits to their actions.  How are property developers exempt from laws protecting wildlife?

We are locked in to a Colonial, cancerous type of economy, of new settlers, housing expansion, vegetation clearing, or “taming the bush”, and unbending never-ending “growth” at whatever cost. This type of encroachment onto native species habitats is a Third World problem, not one of a so-called leading, developed economy like that of Australia!
The Buck Stops with YOU!  You are the Environment Minister, so you can stop this habitat vandalism, and sending one more native species down the extinction trial.  Extinction is FOREVER, and would you like to be known by future generations for the demise if the SSB, and only be seen in reserves or stuffed in Museums?  Is this to be your legacy to future generations?  Killing off the last of the SBB?

We wait for your response,

Vivienne Ortega, secretary

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