Effect of pine habitat loss assessed

Carnaby’s cockatoos enjoying an early-morning drink
Carnaby’s cockatoos enjoying an early-morning drink

Albert Jacob and a department spokesman said removal of the Gnangara pine plantations was being considered in the strategic assessment for land development in the Perth and Peel regions under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

But Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren has called for a stronger Biodiversity Conservation Act to ensure WA flora and fauna thrives long into the future.

‘The trajectory indicates a grim demise for the bird if we do not commit more time and effort to save it,’ Ms MacLaren said. ‘This year the Great Cocky Count included a five-year analysis, which indicates the cockatoo population has been declining by 15 per cent annually since 2010.’

Mr Jacob said the State Government was taking a strategic approach to planning that quantified the impact of the pine removal on Carnaby’s, along with other proposed developments.

‘A recovery plan for Carnaby’s cockatoos is well-established and brings together organisations such as the Department of Parks and Wildlife, BirdLife Australia, Perth Zoo and Murdoch University to address key issues such as feeding and breeding requirements, population viability and the health and disease status of the species,’ he said.

‘Since 2008-09, more than $20 million has been invested by industry bodies, through environmental offsets linked to development approvals, to protect WA’s three species of black cockatoos. More than 15,000ha of Carnaby’s habitat has been purchased and transferred into the conservation estate.’

A department spokesman said the report acknowledged the count only covered a part of the overall population of Carnaby’s cockatoos (about a quarter), and that a wider survey effort was needed to understand population trends across the southwest of WA.

‘The count does not take into account lack of knowledge about bird movements,’ the spokesman said.

The results could be affected by other factors such as dispersal elsewhere.

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