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Swift Parrot Habitat

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 27 October 2022

Tags: Swift Parrot, Native Forest Logging

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, it was a very lacklustre contribution from the Leader of the Opposition. Unfortunately, as we often hear from government members and ministers, and the Leader of the Opposition, we hear a lot about the sugar glider rather than the range of threats to the swift parrot and other endangered, and critically endangered species, in this instance the swift parrot. We hear a lot about predation.

No one wants to talk about the actual massive threat to the species, which is the loss of habitat. It is the loss of habitat that ultimately drives species to extinction. What is destroying the habitat of the critically endangered swift parrot? Industrial-scale native forest logging. That logging is flattening trees they count on for breeding and feeding - viminalis, ovata, globulus, delegatensis - those eucalypt species in Tasmania that are essential for the survival of this incredible bird, the fastest parrot on earth.

It is very important when you have a debate about a species' chances of survival that you are honest about what the threats are. Hopefully, none of us here want to see that beautiful bird be driven to extinction. However, it is on the cusp of it. The last research I saw said the estimate is that the swift parrot is down to about 300 individual birds because there has been a lack of investment in understanding what is happening to this species and in protecting its habitat. We have had a recovery plan that does not seem to be much more than a document. There has not been enough research done on the status of this bird, there has not been enough focus on saving this bird, rather than continuing to excuse and enable a native forest logging industry that on this island too rarely has known any bounds at all.

As Dr Woodruff made clear in her contribution, the native forest logging industry, apart from driving species to extinction - from the swift parrot to the masked owl to the spotted quoll, leaving species on the brink - it is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the island. The science which is referenced, the methodology of which is laid out really clearly in Dr Jen Sanger's work, is clear that native forest logging emits 4.65 million tonnes of carbon - CO2e - each year, and that is made up of both short term and long term emissions.

It is immoral to log forests that are carbon stores. It is immoral to knowingly log the habitat of a species that depends on our forests for survival, and we have seen that protection racket of Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Authority operating here against the interests of the swift parrot since forever.

The paper the Bob Brown Foundation released talks about the discovery of logging in December of last year when BBF scientists and citizen scientists were surveying a coupe in the Southern Forests and discovered that instead of what the minister in his contribution described as 'adaptively managing' the species, BBF busted Forestry Tasmania 'adaptively logging' their habitat. That is what happened. There was logging happening underneath the swift parrots in a prime habitat forest. In the back of this document is an email chain between the Bob Brown Foundation, which wrote to former premier Peter Gutwein, the Forest Practices Authority and minister Guy Barnett with clear evidence that logging was happening in the habitat of a critically endangered species while the species was there. That is not adaptive management; that is wilful action taken that will drive a species towards extinctions.

This correspondence chain, which is the appendix to the Bob Brown Foundation's report, is plain that if not for the Bob Brown Foundation and their citizen scientists, that coupe would have been flattened and burned, and who knows what would have happened to those birds who at that time were either nesting or feeding on that site. Because of the citizen science work of the Bob Brown Foundation, that logging operation was ceased. Is that not the work the Forest Practices Authority should be doing when they approve a forest practices plan for a Forestry Tasmania operation, whether it is undertaken by contractors or Forestry Tasmania staff themselves? You would think so.

Let us move away from this Orwellian focus only on the sugar glider as a threat to this bird. Yes, it is part of the threats, but talking about and focusing on the sugar glider is a really obvious ploy to avoid talking about the threat of native forest logging to the swift parrot and to every other threatened and endangered species.

A recovery plan for the swift parrot that only has $1 million in it over four years is not worth much.

Mr Jaensch - Additional.

Ms O'CONNOR - An extra million dollars over four years will employ you one scientist and an administrative assistant for $250 000 a year, and a recovery plan is meaningless while they are still logging swift parrot habitat.