Counting the cost of clearing

The count uses volunteers to tally as many threatened Carnaby’s black cockatoos as possible on one night, in known roosting sites in the Swan Region from Yanchep, east to the Darling Range and south to Mandurah.

Birdlife Australia Threatened Cockatoos project manager Matt Fossey said this year’s tally of 5800 was a 44 per cent increase over the past two years, but significantly below the 6700 recorded in 2010.

He said more were north of the river while southern site numbers were down and this could be due to clearing in the Gnangara, Pinjar and Yanchep pine plantations.

‘Cockatoos have been forced to move into areas where they are more easily observed,’ he said.

He called on the Government to halt State forest clearing until it finished the Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel regions, which is assessing the impact that State planning proposal documents will have on environmentally significant sites.

It aims to respond to issues such as black cockatoo decline and Peel-Harvey estuary health, give industry greater certainty and less red tape and ensure long-term land supply for development.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the assessment would not affect the Forest Management Plan he was considering approving, which set State forest logging quotas for the next decade.

He said draft documentation relating to the Strategic Assessment would go out for public consultation mid-2014 whereas the forest plan was set to take effect next year.

‘The draft 2013 Great Cocky Count Report indicates movement of Carnaby’s cockatoos is largely east to west,’ he said.

‘The counts of roosting Carnaby’s from year to year are highly variable.’

He said continuing the Great Cocky Count over the next three to five years would give greater understanding of whether Carnaby’s numbers in Perth were decreasing.