Media Releases - 27 July 2018

New science confirms logging regulations & environment laws failing to protect swift parrots

A new scientific paper, published this week by CSIRO Publishing’s Pacific Conservation Biology and authored by leading research scientists working to understand and protect the swift parrot, highlights the regulatory and legal failures that are jeopardising the future of the species—including the ongoing logging of critical habitat areas. 

'Policy failure and conservation paralysis for the critically endangered swift parrot’ identifies ongoing logging in Tasmania's native forests as a major threat to nesting and foraging habitat of the iconic, migratory species. 

This work reinforces the exposé Pulling a Swiftie published on the back of disturbing right to information revelations that proved the Tasmanian Government was approving logging plans that destroyed critical habitat areas and ran counter to expert scientific advice. 

“With less than 2,000 individual swift parrots left, how long is it going to take our governments to step up and actually take real action to protect this species?” said Vica Bayley, Wilderness Society spokesperson. 

“There are numerous threats to the parrot, including the complex issue of predation by introduced sugar gliders, but when it comes to habitat it is simple: only government can finalise and implement reserves and regulations that protect habitat from logging and the government is currently deliberately failing. The logging of parrot habitat was identified as a major issue in Forestry Tasmania’s failed FSC certification bid. 

“Tasmania needs to formally reserve identified areas of swift parrot habitat in new national parks and other reserves, plus ensure remnant habitat in off-reserve areas are protected from logging and land clearing through robust, enforceable laws and regulations, otherwise the achievements like FSC will always be out of reach. 

“It is well understood that federal environment laws are failing Australia’s vulnerable species and in Tasmania, the swift parrot is a perfect case in point. While this new paper demonstrates the threat of logging on parrot habitat has been known for decades, the exemption afforded logging from compliance with federal environment laws accentuates the failures of the Forest Practices Code. 

“Our wildlife needs a new suite of national environment laws and genuine determination from the government to ensure that they work. 

“Regional Forest Agreements create legislated black holes, free of federal laws into which the fate of species like the swift parrot plunge. RFAs are failing the environment. The choice is continuing towards extinction, or reform."  

'Parrots in Plight': The authors of this paper will join a DPIPWE expert working to protect the orange-bellied parrot at a National Science Week event in Hobart on 15 August 2018. The event is hosted by the Wilderness Society and Birdlife Tasmania and will be livestreamed.