Media Release - 3 March 2016
Conservation Groups have responded with alarm to revelations that the WA Government’s Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan would decimate the remaining population of unique and endangered Carnaby's cockatoos on the Swan Coastal Plain.
The Plan has been developed as part of a Strategic Assessment which aims to protect endangered wildlife and provide certainty for developers by removing the need for environmental assessments for development proposals in the Perth-Peel region.
A Population Viability Analysis for the cockatoos undertaken as part of the Assessment has been withheld from public release; however it has been revealed that the proposed clearing of banksia woodland and pine plantations under the Plan would reduce the remaining cockatoo population by 50%. The 2015 Great Cocky Count estimated that less than 6,000 cockatoos remain in the Swan Coastal Plain population.
“While the Government has hailed this Plan as a great environmental initiative, the government’s own numbers show that it will lock in the deaths of thousands of cockatoos through starvation, as their vital food sources are bulldozed to make way for more unsustainable urban sprawl” said Conservation Council Director Piers Verstegen.
“The Plan gives certainty to developers that they will make profits and gives certainty to thousands of cockatoos that they will be killed or die of starvation.
“The population of these beautiful and unique birds has been rapidly declining over the last decade and the Green Growth Plan would fail to address that decline.
“Until now we have had a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ as urban sprawl has destroyed vast areas of critical habitat for cockatoos. The Green growth Plan was supposed to fix that problem however the Governments own numbers show it will do the opposite.
“These birds are unique and exist nowhere else in the world. They are a totem for Noongar people and are part of our shared cultural and environmental heritage. We must do better than this at protecting them.
“If our environmental laws can allow endangered wildlife to be decimated in this way clearly those laws are failing our environment and need to be changed urgently.
“Based on these projections, it is clear that the Green Growth plan needs to be sent back to the drawing board and much greater effort made to protect remaining banksia woodland and other critical habitat for endangered species in the Perth-Peel Region.
“Offsets provided in the Plan in the form of new conservation estate are welcome, however offsets can never make up for the massive net loss of habitat that is proposed.
“Our capital city is in one of the worlds few internationally recognised Biodiversity Hotspots - we need a plan for our Capital City that preserves those values and addresses the threats.
“Conservation groups are calling on the State and Commonwealth Environment Ministers to reject this proposal as unacceptable.
“Instead the State Government must halt any further clearing of native cockatoo habitat and initiate land swaps or directly buy back areas of banksia woodland that have been previously zoned for urban sprawl.
“We cannot let past planning decisions, which are yet to be acted upon, lock in the catastrophic decline of our endangered species.
“Research shows clearly that Perth residents want to live in a sustainable city that replaces urban sprawl with sustainable apartments, green corridors, renewable energy and public transport. Now is the time for our State Government to deliver - not lock in more destruction of habitat for unique wildlife.
Comment: Piers Verstegen 0411 557 892
Image of Carnaby's Cockatoo by Margaret Owen.