Media Releases - 14 August 2018

Spotlight on Hodgman Government over swift parrot habitat loss

A recent scientific paper and news of the deliberate destruction of swift parrot habitat under an east coast dam has highlighted the severe pressure the swift parrot is under and focuses attention on the role of the Hodgman Government and exactly what it is going to do about protecting this iconic species.

The paper ‘Policy failure and conservation paralysis for the critically endangered swift parrot’, published by CSIRO Publishing, identifies ongoing logging in the state’s native forests as a major threat to nesting and foraging habitat of this critically endangered, migratory species.

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

Public consultation on the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s plan to destroy 20+ ha of critical habitat under a dam closed on 15 August.

“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?” asked Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

The logging of parrot habitat was identified as a major issue in Forestry Tasmania’s failed FSC certification bid. RTI requests demonstrated government departmental approval of logging plans against the explicit advice of experts. Dam building is exempt from Tasmania’s Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.  

“The Hodgman Government has consistently failed to take steps to protect swift parrots and the exemption of logging from the application of federal environment laws means the Turnbull Government has no capacity to intervene, even if it wanted to.

“State laws don’t protect the parrot and federal laws can’t. Something has to be done or the parrot will go the way of the Tasmanian emu and thylacine."

A moratorium on logging on Bruny Island, a swift parrot management plan for habitat in the southern forests and the reversal of informal reserves that protect swift parrot habitat are all initiatives of the Hodgman Government that are hanging in limbo.

"We know that nearly half of all bird species are already in decline and that parrots are the most threatened bird group globally. What's happening in Tasmania to the swift parrots is symptomatic of what's happening in the rest of the world."