Media Releases - 08 September 2023

Swift Parrot Recovery Plan again favours industrial logging over conservation, all-but guaranteeing extinction of world’s fastest parrot

The Albanese Government’s new National Swift Parrot Recovery Plan, released on Threatened Species Day 2023, fails to adequately address the main cause of Swift Parrot decline: habitat destruction by ongoing logging. Therefore, the plan also fails to deliver meaningful conservation action for the swift parrot, all but guaranteeing its extinction.

While the long-awaited plan acknowledges that industrial logging is a primary driver of dwindling swift parrot habitats, it fails to take meaningful action. Instead, it offers a woefully inadequate recommendation: to protect critical habitat, as long as it is outside Tasmania’s logging areas. The problem is that these logging areas are what constitute the species’ main habitat and they will continue to be destructively logged.

Conservation organisation, the Wilderness Society Tasmania, says the plan, which is probably our last best chance to prevent swift parrot extinction, falls far short of the protections necessary.

Although these logging areas are managed under a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA), and are exempt from national environment laws, Tasmania’s RFA could be altered by the Tasmanian and Federal governments if they were serious about swift parrot conservation. They could alter the RFA to protect swift parrot habitat from future logging activities. The tragedy is that they won’t.

This new ‘recovery plan’ is the latest in a line of previous swift parrot recovery plans that have failed to protect its habitat from native forest logging.

Tom Allen, Campaign Manager for Wilderness Society Tasmania, said, “The weakness and meekness of the plan’s protection measures show how damaging Regional Forest Agreements are for nature. Despite being in the midst of a worsening extinction crisis, the Albanese puts logging before conservation.

“A government committed to the swift parrot’s survival could have worked with the Tasmanian government to enhance swift parrot habitat protection, including in areas subject to logging under a Regional Forest Agreement. Instead, the Albanese and Rockliff governments are content to sit by and let swift parrot habitat continue to be logged. On their watch, they are choosing to let the swift parrot disappear. History should judge them accordingly.

“With just a few hundred swift parrots estimated left in the wild, the forests they call home are being logged as we speak. Everyday that goes by more and more of the habitat these precious birds need for their survival is being logged. This new recovery plan doesn’t change that.

“Another thing the Federal Government could have done is reached out to conservation organisations. The Wilderness Society, BirdLife Tasmania and The Tree Projects already have a plan that would give the swift parrot the best chance of survival. By protecting the fullest extent of swift parrot habitat, just 7% of production forests, is what we put forward last year but this hasn’t been acknowledged or considered and so has effectively been rejected. Logging wins again and the fate of the swift parrot is a big step closer to extinction as a result. Shame on them,” said Mr Allen.

In 2022 The Wilderness Society, The Tree Projects and BirdLife Tasmania put forward a Swift Parrot Protection Plan that identifies and proposes protecting all known swift parrot habitat. Even though it covers the fullest extent of all known swift parrot habitat, this is still just 7% of the Tasmanian Government’s logging forests. Protecting this 7% sliver of high conservation value native forest would make no practical difference to the revenues of Forestry Tasmania—but could make all the difference to the swift parrot.

"The release of the Swift Parrot Recovery Plan was a missed opportunity for the Albanese government to be true leaders during a biodiversity crisis, and take action to save the swift parrot from extinction. The plan doesn't go nearly far enough and fails to take on board the recommendations of The Swift Parrot Protection Plan published by conservation groups last year. The Recovery plan will relegate the beloved rare swift parrot to the same fate as the Maugean skate," said Rebecca Howarth of Environment Tasmania.

For interviews with Tom Allen, Wilderness Society Tasmania Campaigns Manager, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for The Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760