Pinjar: nearly 5000 Carnaby’s black cockatoos to be cleared under State Govt plan


Carnaby’s black cockatoo. Picture: Georgina Steytler
Carnaby’s black cockatoo. Picture: Georgina Steytler

A ‘MEGA ROOST’ of Carnaby’s black cockatoos discovered in Pinjar will be cleared under a State Government plan.

An unprecedented flock of nearly 5000 cockatoos was discovered in Pinjar pine plantation during BirdLife Australia’s annual Great Cocky Count in April.

Project co-ordinator Adam Peck said the previous highest count was 1500 cockatoos in a single roost area, far less than this year’s tally of 4897 in an area north of Old Yanchep Road.

“It was quite an event for us,” he said.

This habitat forms part of the 23,000ha of pine plantations to be removed under the State Government’s draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million.

The Gnangara, Yanchep and Pinjar pine plantations will be cleared, with 5000ha of pines to be replanted in Yanchep.

“There will be a huge net loss of the Carnaby’s roosting habitat,” Mr Peck said.

“We know how to save the Carnaby’s and it’s all about saving their habitat, but the plan will reduce their habitat by 50 per cent.”

He said under the plan, the cockatoos’ population around Perth was expected to decline by half.

“The fate of the entire population of Carnaby’s black cockatoos around Perth is now in the balance,” he said.

“The plan would see large areas of pine plantations removed and these plantations are crucial for the survival of the species.”

But Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the population decline would be “far greater” without the plan.

“All the statistics and studies show that the species is already in significant decline,” he said.

“We think we can slow down and stop the decline.”

Mr Jacob said the pine plantations were a drain on the Gnangara Mound, affecting other wildlife including the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise.

“You can’t do conservation for one species alone,” he said.

“The pine trees are the greatest environmental problem we have in the northern suburbs.”

Despite the plantation clearing, he said it would create 170,000ha of new conservation reserves in the Perth and Peel regions.

“This is the largest in any city anywhere in the world ever,” he said.

“It creates a large, cohesive and coherent conservation site.”

But the expected loss of cockatoos was “not good enough” according to Mr Peck, and an alternative plan was needed.

He suggested a “compromise” would be to replace the pines with banksia woodland.

“Modelling shows there would be significant recharge of the aquifer and it would also provide habitat for species such as the Carnaby’s.”

Public submissions for the plan close on May 13; visit dpc.wa.gov.au.