Swift par­rot could go quickly as trees fall in Tas­ma­nia

Warwick Daily News - - NEWS NATION & WORLD - – Pa­trick Billings, Mer­cury and staff writer

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.”

PHOTO: AAP

IN LOGGERS’ WAY: The swift par­rot.

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