The Australian Government will secure the future of 20 of our threatened bird species by 2020, setting an ambitious new target to reverse declines in their populations.
We have to work harder to meet these challenges. We also have to work smarter. So, for the first time, an Australian Government has identified a list of bird species for priority action and committed to improving their fortunes within five years.
I want to bring these birds back far enough from the brink to survive in the wild long-term. I want future generations to enjoy the colour, movement and song they bring to our lives.
The first 10 birds identified for priority action are: the helmeted honeyeater, hooded plover, eastern bristlebird, regent honeyeater, mallee emu-wren, plains-wanderer, night parrot, Alligator Rivers yellow chat, and Norfolk Island’s green parrot and boobook owl.
Two more – the orange-bellied parrot and western ground parrot – will benefit from emergency interventions. The remaining eight species to receive special attention will be identified over the next 12 months, in consultation with the community.
It is a pleasure to be able to make this significant announcement at the launch of the Birdlife Australia report in Melbourne today.
The report’s findings highlight the threats facing our birds, ranging from habitat loss and fragmentation to feral cats and foxes.
It’s not enough to add birds to our national threatened species list and plan to save them. We have to go one step further, by putting those plans into action.
At the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne tomorrow, I will release Australia’s first national strategy for threatened species. It will clearly set out what will happen by when, turning good intentions into clear and measurable targets. The recovery of 20 bird species by 2020 is one such target.
As a down payment on this target, I am pleased to announce funding for New South Wales Government projects that will help two of our priority bird species: the plains-wanderer and hooded plover, both listed nationally as vulnerable.
We will contribute $100,000 to one project to tackle the 90 per cent decline in plains-wanderer numbers since 2001. It will control the rabbits and weeds that are degrading the plains-wanderer’s grassland home in the Riverina and establish an insurance population for this rare species – the sole member of a family of birds found only in eastern Australia.
We will also put $40,000 towards the study of two subpopulations of the hooded plover on NSW’s south coast. By banding the shorebirds, tracking their movements and analysing their genetics, the project will help us better understand how the groups interact and how to conserve them.
The latest announcements are in addition to the $525,000 committed last month to the orange-bellied parrot, in response to the discovery of beak and feather disease in the wild population of this critically endangered bird.
It is possible to recover birds at risk of extinction because we have access to high quality science and can act in partnership with the community and other governments.
Implementing evidence-based actions such as habitat restoration can support recovery of these birds and also protect the reptiles, frogs, insects and plants that share the same home.