Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for the ENVIRONMENT, Mr JAENSCH
There is just a tiny number of critically endangered swift parrots remaining. We need to go all out to protect the remaining nesting and foraging trees they have. Conservationists have amassed evidence that Forestry Tasmania is clearfelling forests at Snow Hill in the Northeastern Tiers right now. This is where flocks of parrots were joyfully photographed and recorded last year during their breeding season. This is essential habitat. That evidence is documented, extensive and solid.
Despite every supposed environmental protection regulation, it is clear that the rules are failing to stop this wholesale destruction of a critically endangered species habitat.
You are meeting Tanya Plibersek next week to talk about the Maugean skate, another species whose survival you are responsible for. I am sure you understand that preventing animal extinction is your job. Knowing this, will you work with minister Ellis next to you to end logging in the Snow Hills swift parrot habitat immediately?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. We are blessed in Tasmania to have the world's only two known true migratory parrots as residents of Tasmania. Both of them are threatened or endangered. It is understood that the swift parrot population is somewhere between 300 and 1000 birds based on genetic modelling to get an estimate. There is a lot of conjecture about that.
We need to make sure we are doing whatever we can to manage this species and assist its recovery. One of the differences between the swift parrot and the orange-bellied parrot is that they have different habits in their migration where they return to breed. The orange-bellied parrot, quite usefully, tends to come back to the same place in Melaleuca in the south west to breed each year. The swift parrot does not. The swift parrot tends to move to different areas every breeding season, where there is a combination of suitable habitat, nesting sites and forage available to it.
Our knowledge of what that habitat is, is growing and expanding as more observations are made of the bird. The potential habitat for the swift parrot's breeding habitat areas are growing.
Dr Woodruff - That is not true.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - The knowledge of where they may go is also growing. We also know that they do not return to the same places every year. As Dr Woodruff has pointed out, observations of the parrot at sites last year does not mean that they are returning to those sites this year. It means that those sites may be suitable. That is why we have to adopt a landscape management approach, as my colleague Mr Ellis says, to ensure that throughout their potential habitat there is retention of suitable sites that are known to be possible breeding areas. There are also precautions under the forest management arrangement and forest practices arrangements to ensure that there is a management response in active areas where parrots are directly observed. That is a matter that Mr Ellis may be able to speak more on.
I can assure the House that our Government is acutely aware of our responsibilities and deeply committed to recovery of this species. That is why we have invested $1 million most recently in a plan of actions that support the recovery plan. That is why I have recently added my signature to the re-made swift parrot recovery plan. We are awaiting advice from Ms Plibersek as to when that takes effect under federal legislation.
We have heard today about the PAMA arrangements, the forest management practices, the trials underway regarding sugar glider management in Tasmania, which is a significant threat to species here, and we are looking forward to the remade recovery plan informing our future management responses in Tasmania's landscape.