Tasmanian Times


Species dying out on Labor’s watch


The Tasmanian Greens today said Labor in Tasmania could realistically expect the ignominious honour of at least two significant species dying out on its watch unless it took meaningful action.

The Tasmanian devil was elevated to endangered status in 2010. Now it is reported that the Orange-bellied parrot is teetering precariously on the brink of extinction, with just 21 individual parrots left in the wild, said Ms O’Connor.

“The Department of Environment’s publicly available Threatened Species list shows, by the Greens’ count, about 202 endangered animals. Of these, eight are already extinct – gone forever. Along with the Tassie devil and orange-bellied parrot, there are 64 other endangered animal species in Tasmania.

“And that is just the animal species. There are 736 threatened plant species in Tasmania. Of these 136 are listed as endangered. 20 are already extinct – gone forever.”

“In total, Tasmania is shamed by having 938 endangered, vulnerable, rare or extinct plant and animal species listed. Who can say what the reality is on the ground? This list shows 246 plant and animal species as having no up to date status. That means we just don’t know what their threatened status actually is.”

“The reality is that the Tasmanian devil and orange-bellied parrot could be lost forever on Labor’s watch. That’s a stain no politician wants on their record but that is a real possibility, given these dramatic and shaming declines.”

“I actually believe the Environment Minister, Brian Wightman, differs from some of his predecessors in that he genuinely wants to do the right thing in this portfolio.”

“But his recent comments that it is the “loss of foraging habitat along the southern Australian coastline” which is precipitating the Orange-bellied parrot’s decline reveal an unwillingness to admit deforestation, especially of Tasmania’s swathes of native old-growth forest, is central to species decline, including this parrot.”

“The ecological importance of preserving our high conservation value forests can be lost in the debate about the timber industry. But logging our old-growth forests isn’t just economic madness. It continues the quiet genocide of Tasmania’s animal and plant life too.”

“Saving species like the orange-bellied parrot and Tassie devil isn’t just about dollars. It’s also about making sure the protection plans for these species are implemented. That is surely what Mr Wightman wants to be remembered for,” said Ms O’Connor.

• Meanwhile … via phill Parsons:

Myrtle rust:

My guess is Devonport to be the first site of infection as the ferry carries it over although a hot northerly wind, if we see one again, may be the vector

Download the facts : Myrtle_rust_symptoms_Feb12_A3r.pdf

And …

Tropical Cyclones to Cause Greater Damage, Researchers Predict

ScienceDaily (Feb. 1, 2012) — Tropical cyclones will cause $109 billion in damages by 2100, according to Yale and MIT researchers in a paper published in Nature Climate Change.

That figure represents an increased vulnerability from population and especially economic growth, as well as the effects of climate change. Greater vulnerability to cyclones is expected to increase global tropical damage to $56 billion by 2100 — double the current damage — from the current rate of $26 billion per year if the present climate remains stable.

Climate change is predicted to add another $53 billion of damages. The damage caused by climate change is equal to 0.01 percent of GDP in 2100.

The United States and China will be hardest hit, incurring $25 billion and $15 billion of the additional damages from climate change, respectively, amounting to 75 percent of the global damages caused by climate change. Small islands, especially in the Caribbean, will also be hit hard, suffering the highest damages per unit of GDP.

The research reveals that more intense storms will become more frequent with climate change. “The biggest storms cause most of the damage,” said Robert Mendelsohn, the lead economist on the project. “With the present climate, almost 93 percent of tropical cyclone damage is caused by only 10 percent of the storms. Warming will increase the frequency of these high-intensity storms at least in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean basins, causing most of the increase in damage.”

The authors based their estimates on a future global population of 9 billion and an annual increase of approximately 3 percent in gross world product until 2100. “More people making a lot more income will put more capital in harm’s way,” he said.

Tropical cyclones today cause $26 billion in global damages, which is 4 percent of gross world product. North America and East Asia account for 88 percent of these damages, because these regions have powerful storms and well-developed coastlines.

The future economic damage from tropical cyclones will be less than $1 billion a year in Europe and South America because there are few storms there, and the damage in Africa will be low because, Mendelsohn said, there is “relatively little in harm’s way.” Damages in Asia and Central America are expected to grow rapidly in concert with high economic growth. The Caribbean-Central America region will have the highest damage per unit of gross domestic product — 37 percent.

“When you calculate damages as a fraction of GDP, island nations are hit disproportionately hard,” he said.

The tropical cyclone model is used in conjunction with climate models to predict how the frequency, intensity and location of tropical cyclones change in the seven ocean basins of the world. The paths of 17,000 synthetic storms are followed until they strike land. The authors used historical data to estimate the damages caused by the intensity of each cyclone and what was in harm’s way. The paper revealed that minimum barometric pressure predicts damages more accurately than maximum wind speed.

ScienceDaily here

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. phill Parsons

    February 8, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Here Hunt declares a marina of critical state importance [ a yacht driven economy ] and the orange belied parrot imaginary. I am sure it will take little imagination to see an Abbott world of white shoes and carpet bags with a rash of ‘essential’ projects with their jobs [ 0.5 per new yacht moored ] not to be delayed by such things as habitat, community [unless wealthy and well connected] or RAVE species.

    Goodbye sea grass beds, peaceful waterways for dugongs, marine reserves, slat marshes, forests, coastal habitat, and water conservation in the MDB.

    Return of the nearly dead parrot: orange-belly holds up marina
    • by: Sid Maher
    • From: The Australian
    • February 09, 2012 12:00AM

    Stefan Borzecki, a director of Western Port Boat Harbour, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, says the $50m project will create 200 ongoing jobs. Picture: David Geraghty Source: The Australian
    CONCERNS about the rare orange-bellied parrot threaten a $50 million marina expansion on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula despite expert advice the bird has not been seen in the area for 25 years.
    Six years after the parrot gained notoriety when it prompted the Howard government to veto a proposed Victorian wind farm, the bird has been cited as one of three reasons the Environment Department has referred the Yaringa Boat Harbour expansion for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
    In requiring an assessment, the department cited environmental concerns over the parrot, the southern brown bandicoot and the fact that the development is near the Western Port Ramsar wetlands site.
    The referral for assessment has frustrated Western Port Boat Harbour Pty Ltd, which argues it has been dealing with the Environment Department for a year and spent $1 million on consultants. It also sparked opposition calls for a streamlining of the environmental approvals process.
    The government says much of the delay was caused by the six months the company took to complete an environmental survey, requested in June, as part of the EPBC Act referral process, and the department is simply following due process by proceeding from the initial referral stage to the formal assessment stage.
    Stefan Borzecki, a director of Western Port Boat Harbour, said the project involved expanding the Yaringa Boat Harbour from its existing 600 berths to 1000, in a $50 million project that would create 200 ongoing jobs.
    A report from consultants Ecology & Heritage Partners, handed to the government last month, found the proposed marina expansion would have no impact on the Ramsar waterways, and that it was “likely that southern brown bandicoot and new holland mouse are not present within the study area at the current time”. The report said the orange-bellied parrot was last seen in the area in 1987.
    In 2006, the Howard government’s environment minister, Ian Campbell, used the parrot as a reason to veto a proposed Victorian wind farm project.
    The parrot is one of the world’s rarest birds, with only 50 believed to be still in the wild. It migrates each year from Tasmania to southeastern Australia.
    The Yaringa development sparked a political row, with opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt declaring this was the sort of “bureaucratic red tape that undermines confidence in the environmental process”. He said the Coalition would maintain standards while simplifying the system.
    “It is ludicrous that a major project which will create hundreds of local jobs has been put on hold because one day an orange-bellied parrot may decide to fly over the area, even though they have not been seen in this location for a quarter of a century,” Mr Hunt said.
    “We would create a one-stop-shop to provide consistency in decisions and better quality outcomes rather than wasting millions of dollars on nonsensical studies when our efforts should be directed to the real environmental issues.
    “The minister must make it absolutely clear whether he believes a system which stops a project of critical state importance for an imaginary parrot is acceptable.”
    Environment Minister Tony Burke said the department had responded within two weeks of the original EPBC referral in June and within three weeks of receiving further information last month and the delay was caused by the applicant taking six months to provide more information. “Environmental approvals are important decisions and assessments must be rigorous,” he said.
    “In that context, I fail to see how these timelines have been unreasonable.”
    He said the current requirements for environmental approvals had been in place since the EPBC Act became law in 1999. Many of the threatened species that may be affected by this proposal have been listed for years.


  2. mike seabrook

    February 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    lab-greens very very quiet on the wedge tail eagles predicament & the wind mill farms that they are encouraging.

    hypocrites !!!!!!!!

  3. David Obendorf

    February 7, 2012 at 12:36 am

    By my assessament of the comments, it’s ‘come in spinner’ for another game of Two-Up with Tasmania’s fauna and an underwhelming response for a Tasmanian Greens Minister in a Labor State Government.

    Look to your constituency in Denison Ms O’Connor; they may be desperately trying to tell you the bleeding obvious!

  4. Karl Stevens

    February 7, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Russell Langfield 9. One of the species that died out on Cassy O’Connors watch was the ‘honest green’.
    All thats left are dysfunctional androids that can love and hate Labor at the same time, or at least oscillate in harmony with the Greens senators.

  5. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 7, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Re #6 I am not aware of any evidence for or credible claim of an overall 90% population decline. There is a current finding of an 84% drop in statewide sightings but I doubt whether attempting to extrapolate that to statewide population decline accurately is an easy matter.

    I would be interested to know on what authoritative measure, if any, Tasmania is being claimed to have “amongst the highest proportional rates of terrestrial habitat destruction in the developed world” (do such assessments include state-by-state data or equivalents for all compared jurisdictions) and whether such an assessment differentiates between permanent land alienation and impacts that are followed by regeneration. In any case, there are many areas that have cleared so much of their original habitat that they need to be extremely careful about clearing any at all of what remains. Without saying that the issue of permanent land clearance should be taken lightly, Tasmania does have a high proportion of original habitat remaining.

    Re the Orange-bellied Parrot, post 7 is at the very least broadly correct and post 8 is under- or mis-informed (as is the original article). There is ample past information on distribution patterns of the OBP from which to infer that the past distribution of the bird on the Tasmanian mainland has long been primarily the coastal south-west and similar areas in the far south – although interestingly it did occur inland in areas such as Bothwell and New Norfolk. (For instance, prior to making this post I’ve reread the historical summaries about the species’ past distribution in Forshaw and Cooper’s 2nd edition of Australian Parrots (1981).) (I will note that it is doubtful whether habitat degradation is the sole cause of the post-2005 OBP population crash and that many factors have been implicated, none of which have the slightest thing to do with forestry.)

    Over the past 30 years this has been one of our most intensively monitored and freqently studied species – a substantially funded monitoring effort to which several Tasmanians have also contributed their time voluntarily to work alongside scientists in tracking this species. All involved deserve better than to have the quality of their work maligned by someone who is employing a pseudonym and who hasn’t even researched the subject he/she is commenting on adequately. In this case, the “guesswork and shoot-from-the-hip fabrications” and “misinformation threat to community understanding” are most likely to be found in the baseless assertions from the author of #8 that the work required to track this species’ status has not been done. I suggest the author of #8 devote some effort into researching the OBP monitoring effort before making such claims in the future.

  6. C. Jackson

    February 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    RE Tigerquoll. I just thought that the peak environment protection agencies on both sides of Bass Strait and their teams of University trained ecologists might know more about the ecological requirements of threatened species than opportunistic politicians and bloggers who think conservation is all about protecting the next valley full of old growth forests. Fact is, the habitat requirements of the OBP are already adequately protected in Tasmania and ambit claims for greater reservation of so called high conservation forest in Tasmania will add nothing to its current plight.

  7. Russell

    February 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm


    “Species dying out on Cassy O’Connor’s watch.”

  8. C. Jackson

    February 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    For the record, there is no logical connection between the future of currently unreserved so called high conservation value forests in Tasmania and the orange bellied parrot. The parrot migrates to Tasmania from the mainland to breed in coastal areas of south west Tasmania currently entirely protected in the south west National Park. It is degradation of the mainland habitat of the parrot that is placing the species most at risk. Ms O’Connor would know this is she took even the briefest opportunity to check out the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife web site.

  9. john hayward

    February 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I can’t see much hope for threatened flora and fauna when the state’s leading corporate destroyers of these things enjoy veto power over environmental legislation.

    Have a look at the loophole amendments inserted in the legislation protecting threatened flora and the habitat of native fauna. Consider the protection of waterfowl, whose numbers are falling steadily while the bag limits are raised.

    Reflect on the fact that DFTD orphans are again being released back where they came from, rather than in natural habitat on an island or the mainland where they don’t function as zoo trade commodities.

    Tassie has amongst the highest proportional rates of terrestrial habitat destruction in the developed world, (and yet a 90% decline in the population of a once common and widespread top-order carnivore, in less than eighteen years, is no cause for alarm?)

    John Hayward

  10. Greg James

    February 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    This is a strange piece from Ms O’Connor, given the power of negotiation she had when forming the Labor/Green Ministry, neither she or McKim actually negotiated any policies that the Greens wanted. Nothing on Forestry, gaming or even within their own ministries.
    After a decade of ALP mismanagement these two trusted them to do what, further mismanage the State, without any gain for anything the Greens stood for.
    So one must ask what was the point, what difference would it have made if they had formed an agreement with the Liberals. The possibility of new thought and management practices (maybe) comes to mind. The incompetence of the current elected fools in the ALP would have been hidden harmlessly in opposition, instead of by highly paid minders.
    O’Connor you are turning into a political joke, if you actually mean to protect the forests and the parrots, don’t write a pretty piece on the thoughts of Wightman, do something. Negotiate, threaten, re-arrange the budget, re-organise, demonstrate but do something actively responsible.

  11. David Obendorf

    February 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    The scam of getting the Commonwealth Government to bank roll threatened species operations out of Tasmania’s DPIPWE was exposed few years ago by the Auditor-General.

    The expensive, cut-and-come-again magic puddling provided endless jobs and resources for government employees that had been kept hungry and shackled on Llewellyn’s hard tack ration. Hence all the programs redolent with media-hype: the Fox Task Force, Macquarie Island rabbit & rodent eradication program, wedge-tailed eagles, Tasmanian devil and their cancer, orange bellied parrots captive breeding program etc….

    Time for the Tasmanian Gtreens to take a careful look at this game and educate themselves on ecology and the drivers of biodioversity loss.

  12. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    The notion that this government could realistically expect the extinction of the Tasmanian devil on its watch is ludicrous, especially as it is almost certain the government itself will be extinct within a few years. The disease is not even known to have caused local extinctions yet in the worst affected areas where it may well have been raging for close to 20 years.

    Frankly I feel that bracketing the OBP with the devil (which is probably not even at serious risk despite its crash in numbers from an overpopulated peak) trivialises the serious and difficult issues surrounding the OBP, which is obviously a genuinely precariously threatened species in the wild and extremely likely to become extinct in the wild in the very near future, which will be a terrible loss. By the way, it is untrue that the OBP is about to snuff it entirely, since a captive population still exists, but whether this will ever be the basis for successful reintroduction is unclear and the prospects are apparently and sadly not that great.

    The Greens state that 20 plant species are “already extinct – gone forever” but firstly anyone who has been following the very rapid rate of “extinct” plant rediscoveries in recent years would know it is premature to write off most of those species. Secondly, some of these were very small Tasmanian populations of species that are present in other states so we are not always talking about a full species loss.

    A big reason Tasmania has so many listed threatened species is a poor approach to quality control when the listing process commenced, an approach that is taking a long time to gradually rectify. Botanists doing threatened species assessments know there are several plants on the threatened species list that are practically “native weeds” and that should never have been put there in the first place. There is a need to “flush” the list of erroneous listings, perhaps by requiring that all species listed as Rare require renomination, with a coherent case that the species is actually threatened, within five years or else those species will be delisted.

  13. Karl Stevens

    February 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

    ‘Labor’s watch’? They lost the last election remember? In this coalition government it’s also Cassy O’Connor’s watch. I think the Greens ecological policy is bizarre and insane. Threatened species are forced into segmented ‘informal reserves’ while the rest of the island is exploited by pragmatic industrialists. I put it to Ms O’Connor that all the Greens have done is elevate tree classification to an art form, while denying the environment exists as a whole. The orange-bellied parrots will just fly over the massive Korean subdivision and urban sprawl knowing its not a ‘high conservation value’ area will they?
    What is the Greens target population figure for the island of Tasmania as a starting point for a coherent, unified environment policy?

  14. David Obendorf

    February 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Ms O’Connor, it just needed a little bit of careful, clear-headed thinking to put together the critical pieces of Tassie’s threatened species rip-off puzzle – to work out the real play here.

    It started about a decade-ago but at the time no one had the time to listen. A political fox was in charge of the threatened species chicken coop; now it’s 2012!

    Hopefuly the feral cat and political fox should now be out of the bag, for the Tasmanian Greens.

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