Swift parrot could go quickly as trees fall in Tasmania
THE destruction of nesting trees in Tasmania’s south has been described as a “disaster” for the critically endangered swift parrot.
The logging of habitat in a forest coupe at Tylers Hill, near Dover, may also pose a roadblock to certification for the former Forestry Tasmania – now called Sustainable Timber Tasmania.
Swift parrot researcher Dejan Stojanovic, a postdoctoral fellow at Australian National University, said he was “heartbroken” on seeing the site.
He had gone there to set up nest monitors and devices to protect the parrot from sugar gliders, its main predator in Tasmania.
“It was pretty shocking, to be honest,” Dr Stojanovic said.
“We’ve been monitoring this site for about a decade now and we’ve known for a long time that it’s critical swift parrot habitat ... a whole patch of bush where these birds have nested for over 10 years of our monitoring was just gone.”
The bird spends winter in southeastern mainland Australia before migrating to Tasmania in late winter or early spring to breed.
There are thought to be fewer than 2000 left in the wild because of habitat destruction and other factors.
Last year, STT failed to achieve Forest Stewardship Council certification – which is seen as a commercial imperative for the struggling government-owned business.
One of the concerns of FSC auditors was STT’s lack of swift parrot protection.
In a weekend statement, Environment Minister Elise Archer said “ongoing discussions” with Sustainable Timber Tasmania were aimed at developing a “strategic landscape approach to the management of the species”.
Dr Stojanovic said protecting the bird’s nesting areas “wasn’t really that hard”.
“Don’t cut down mature trees in areas where we know swift parrots need them,” he said.
Dr Stojanovic is also warning the orange- bellied parrot will go extinct in the wild unless urgent funding is secured.
“So far this breeding season only 14 orangebellied parrots, including only two females, have returned from migration,” he said yesterday in Hobart.
“The situation is critical.”
IN LOGGERS’ WAY: The swift parrot.