THE SWIFT PARROT IN TASMANIA

Birds Australia reports:

Plans to log areas of forests, including Wielangta Forest in southern Tasmania, are likely to severely jeopardise the future of the globally-endangered Swift Parrot, according to Birds Australia who is urging the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments to put a stop to the imminent disaster.

There are less than 1000 pairs of the nationally endangered Swift Parrot known to exist in the wild, yet Forestry Tasmania plans to undertake logging in the Wielangta Forest where there are believed to be several hundred Swift Parrots preparing to breed.

Birds Australia Conservation Manager, Chris Tzaros, said today that if the current logging regime continues, it will have devastating consequences for this species. “A significant part of the Swift Parrot population is currently preparing to breed within Wielangta Forest, sections of which we understand are scheduled to be felled within the next few weeks”.

Tasmania is the only place in the world where Swift Parrots breed.

The species migrates across Bass Strait annually to forage in woodlands of the mainland over winter before heading back to Tasmania to breed. The parrots are dependent on eucalypt forests that contain hollow-bearing trees for nesting in the south and east of Tasmania.

Mr Tzaros says, “For the Swift Parrot, it’s a case of death by a thousand cuts, where incremental loss of critical nesting sites is occurring annually. Each year, Swift Parrots return to an area of forest to breed only to find that hollow trees have been removed or earmarked for destruction through forestry operations”.

“The parrots at Wielangta have commenced breeding and logging will almost certainly result in the loss of nest sites” Mr Tzaros added. “The Swift Parrot is a species whose future is precarious enough due to the loss and degradation of their habitats on the mainland. We have grave fears for their future without having to contend poorly managed logging”.

This is not the first time this has occurred. Birds Australia is aware that logging in Tasmanian forests has already affected a number of important nesting areas and continues to impact on the species. “Let there be no doubt that the single greatest threat facing this species is logging in its nesting habitat in Tasmania” said Mr Tzaros.

For the past 13 years, a national recovery program involving all the eastern States and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars has been implemented in an effort to better understand this species and work towards its conservation. However, it seems that recent expert advice on nest site conservation is falling on deaf ears.

“If uncontrolled logging of Swift Parrot nesting habitat continues then this national recovery effort will have effectively been for nothing. The impact of such losses will be so great that I firmly believe it could spell the beginning of the end for the Swift Parrot” said Mr Tzaros. The Swift Parrot needs to have successful breeding events that allow the species to continue to exist and thrive in the wild.

Birds Australia implores the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments to take immediate action to halt logging in nesting areas, such as Wielangta, and support population monitoring programs in breeding habitat of this endangered species.

Chris Tzaros, Conservation Manager, Birds Australia

Email: c.tzaros@birdsaustralia.com.au