Cockatoo lovers flock to support endangered birds

RevegGnangara campaigners. Picture: Christine Groom
RevegGnangara campaigners. Picture: Christine Groom

COCKATOO lovers have raised about $7000 through a crowdfunding campaign to revegetate former pine plantations in a bid to save Carnaby’s black cockatoos from extinction.

The RevegGnangara community action launched last week as the 2019 BirdLife Australia Great Cocky count survey highlighted the endangered birds’ reliance on pine plantations in Perth’s north.

More than 750 volunteers counted cockies at 397 sites between Geraldton and Esperance, but found that 70 per cent of all Carnaby’s black cockatoos in the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain were concentrated in the Gnangara pine plantation, an area that was being cleared.

“There will be a severe lack of food and roosts for Carnaby’s in the Gnangara area without an immediate decision on revegetation,” black cockatoo project coordinator Adam Peck said.

A Carnaby’s black cockatoo eating pine cone. Picture: Keith Lightbody

With the Perth population of Carnaby’s having declined by 35 per cent over the past decade, BirdLife Australia called on the State Government to commit funds to revegetate the area as soon as possible.

The campaign by the Carnaby’s Cockatoo Action Group aims to raise $10,000 to start revegetation in winter 2020, with almost $7000 donated in the first five days.

“The community shouldn’t have to take this action, but if the government won’t act, we will step in to save the Carnaby’s cockatoo from further decline,” group member Laura Thomas said.

“We will plant native trees to provide food and roosts for Carnaby’s (cockatoos) in the ex-pine plantations.

“This action will also send a clear message to the government that inaction on this issue is not acceptable.”

A Department of Water and Environmental Regulation spokesman said the State Government was committed to protecting Carnaby’s cockatoos.

“The State Government has reduced the harvesting area of commercial pine plantations that have become an important food source for the cockatoos,” he said.

“This has been done by preserving an area of mature pines within Dick Perry Reserve for Carnaby cockatoo habitat.”

The cleared pine plantation that RevegGnangara wants to revegetate. Picture: WWF Pixel Pilot

The spokesman said an Environmental Protection Authority report on Carnaby’s Cockatoo in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Perth and Peel Region, released in May, provided advice about the bird and identified gaps in knowledge needed to inform environmental assessment, management and monitoring of the species and its habitat.

“Agencies across government are currently working together to identify management options for the future land, water and environmental management of the Gnangara, Pinjar and Yanchep pine plantations post-harvest,” he said.

“This work will build on the extensive science, planning and consultation completed over the past decade, including the advice in the EPA’s technical report.”