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Swift Parrot Protection Plan

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 3 March 2022

Tags: Swift Parrot, Threatened Species, Native Forest Logging

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I rise to draw the House's attention to an excellent report that has just been prepared called On the Edge of Extinction: The Case for the Swift Parrot Protection Plan. It is a fantastically produced and evidence-rich report prepared by Dr Jen Sanga, with the contributing support and extensive ornithological research of 18 other bird scientists from Tasmania and the ANU. These are people who have been stalwarts of recording and providing us with the evidence that we need to be able to track the movements of species and do what we can to protect them.

This work was supported by The Tree Projects, BirdLife Tasmania and the Wilderness Society. It is an enormously significant report. I commend it to the Government to pay close attention to.

This incredibly beautiful parrot - the swift parrot - is the fastest moving parrot on the planet. It is a tiny and colourful bird which makes its way down to Tasmania every year to feed and nest in our beautiful forests. We understand there are only 750 of the critically endangered swift parrots left. This little bird is at high risk of extinction if there is not a dramatic change to land management.

The report documents that there are multiple threats to the swift parrot. There is the sugar glider, climate change and land development, but far and away the greatest threat to the swift parrot is the dramatic increase in destruction of its habitat by our Forestry Tasmania. The dramatic decrease in numbers of the swift parrot has been followed in connection with the increasing destruction of the bird's habitat over the last decade in particular.

The Liberals in Government has been deaf to the evidence of experts about the importance of protecting areas of swift parrot habitat, areas that we know are not only important for nesting hollows, but for foraging. Swift parrots rely on a number of species of gums that come into flower in different years and at different times in parts of the east coast and other years parts of the southwest, also up in the tip in the northwest and in the north.

At different years with different climatic conditions, some trees will flower and other trees will not. It is not simply a matter of the birds fly down to Tasmania from Victoria and other parts and going to the same area every year. They do not, they move around. They are looking for the best food. They are looking for the best place to make a nest and bring more chicks into the world.

It is important that this work has been done. It points out that the Public Authority Management Agreement, the PAMA, does not protect the parrot's habitat, it further weakens protections for it. It has falsely claimed that 10 000 hectares have been set aside from logging for breeding habitats. In fact, only a small proportion of that, 2900 hectares that they estimate from their work, is being saved from being cleared. The rest of the 7100 hectares is not being kept aside. They are areas that are already unavailable for STT to do clear felling operations because of typography or other geographical conditions. It was always never going to be on the chopping block.

So, there are only 2900 hectares that the Government has set aside to protect the habitat of known trees that need to be maintained for a critical endangered species.

The report identifies only 7 per cent of public forests currently listed for logging that would need to be protected in order to properly protect the swift parrot's habitat and its foraging habitat now and into the future. That is a tiny proportion. It is very clear that the Forestry Tasmania board recognised that it was being driven by an unsustainable minimum saw log quota. There are 137 000 cubic metres required to be logged every year of saw logs. The board approached the Government and recommended in 2016 that that saw log quota be dropped by 30 per cent so that the company could improve its financial viability.

The company is acknowledging that it has an unsustainable saw log quota that is affecting its financial viability and wants to drop it. There is a report by conservationists who have made it very clear that to save the amount that Forestry Tasmania wanted to stop logging would be a perfect conjunction where the swift parrot's habitat could be protected in perpetuity.