Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
The news from Australian National University researchers yesterday that the critically endangered Swift Parrot has plummeted in numbers to less than 300 is appalling. A decade ago, an estimated 1000 pairs of this colourful speedy remained, but this latest data shows the bird will be in a death spiral if we continue what we are doing. There is no doubt that the main contributor to the continual loss of birds is your Government's logging of the parrots' nesting hollows and food trees in native forests.
Logging swift parrot habitat continues to occur, including in the Eastern Tiers now, and documented parrot habitats are sprinkled throughout permanent logging zones. This is an emergency for the swift parrot, which is heading towards extinction in just a few years unless action is taken immediately. Your ministers for the Environment and forests have shown they are incapable or unwilling to act to protect this species.
I truly believe you do not want a preventable extinction as part of your legacy to Tasmanians. Will you commit to ensuring that all swift parrot habitat, including breeding and foraging habitat, must immediately become no-go zones for logging or any other destructive practice that destroy the habitat of this critically endangered bird?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for that question and her interest in this matter.
It is well understood that the Government is strongly committed to protecting swift parrots. I am aware of the research paper recently published in the Animal Conservation journal which suggests that the current population size of the swift parrot could be below 300 birds. The Government will take on board any new research that increases our understanding of threatened species. I am advised that the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment - DPIPWE - is reviewing the paper and will provide advice to the minister shortly.
In line with our coordinated and adaptive approach to swift parrot management, we will continue to be guided by the experts and by advice -
Dr Woodruff - You did not achieve FSC because you are failing.
Mr GUTWEIN - I point out that the Government has already taken significant actions to protect swift parrots, including the recently signed swift parrot Public Authority Management Agreement - PAMA - for the southern forests.
Dr Woodruff - It is a tiny fraction, and you know it.
Mr Barnett - It is not tiny at all.
Mr GUTWEIN - Well, thank you - I hear the minister saying it is not tiny at all. This landmark agreement proactively protects an additional 10 000 hectares of swift parrot nesting habitat from wood production. This additional protected area is approximately 10 times the size of greater Glenorchy.
Despite the spin being put on this, the truth is that the vast majority of Tasmanian southern forests are already protected …
Dr Woodruff - It will be on your head.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr GUTWEIN - More than half of Tasmania's forested land is in either formal or informal reserves, including over 1 million hectares of old growth forest. Of the land set aside by the parliament for sustainable harvesting, less than half of that land contains native forests available for wood production and less than 1 per cent is harvested annually.
This Government recognises the advice from experts that a number of factors are affecting this species - and I think you would agree with that - which is why in recent times the Government has invested $150 000 in an innovative trial of management techniques for the trapping of the introduced and invasive sugar gliders, which are a major threat to the swift parrot. The forest practices system continues to provide the necessary protections for nesting and foraging habitat in our production forests. Sustainable Timber Tasmania has noted in its latest update to its three-year wood production plan a focus on the protection of significant habitat, including the swift parrots.
Dr Woodruff - Remind me why you didn't get FSC this time again - because you are not protecting swift parrot habitat.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr GUTWEIN - This Government is already acting but, as I have said, the Government will review that paper and we will receive advice on that at an appropriate time. In line with our coordinated and adaptive approach to swift parrot management, the Government will act on the advice provided by those experts.