habitat destruction/Maroubra

Subject: habitat destruction/Maroubra
From: Rod Gardner <>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000 13:32:05 +1000
Hi birders,

Many of you will know about Maroubra for its seabirds, but it's also a good
local spot for landbirds, and the heathlands around Magic Point (Malabar
Headlands) are zoned to become a National Park, with any luck in the fairly
near future. They are Commonwealth owned, and currently being administered
by the Department of Finance and Administration (John Fahey's department).
There's a rifle range on a large part of the headlands, which is due to be
removed some time next year. Underneath the rifle range is an old rubbish
tip, which is suspected to contain toxic waste. This leaches out to the
south end of Maroubra Beach. DoFA has accordingly decided some work on
leachate retention pools should be carried out between the rifle range and
the beach to minimise the risk of contamination of the beach. This is
something that the local community (through the local group Friends of
Malabar Headlands) supports in principle, of course. However - and here's
the issue - they decided to start work on these pools about two weeks ago,
in the middle of the breeding season. They have destroyed a large part of
the existing wetland (a well-established, old leachate retention pond),
where the following birds were, or probably were, breeding: Lewin's Rail,
Australian Reed Warbler, Little Grassbird, Golden-headed Cisticola, as well
as commoner species such as Rufous Whistler and others. Also Spotless Crake
had been present a couple of weeks earlier, and may still have been there.
I've recorded 149 species in this area in the past five years.
When asked why they had chosen to start this work at the worst possible
time of the year, the first response was that if they had known birds were
breeding there, they would have delayed the work (so they claim not to have
known that birds tend to breed in spring!). Since then, they have been very
dismissive of FoMH's efforts to either get the work postponed, or to carry
out work that in the longer run would be beneficial for local birds. We
have suggested extending the wetlands to compensate for loss of the dune
lakes that existed behind the beach until about the fifties. DoFA says they
have consulted with EA, EPA and NPWS, and have been told there is no
problem with them going ahead. If that's true, it is astonishing, as there
must be some people working for these environmental bodies who have little
idea of a) the complex of birds, breeding seasons and wetlands or b) the
site at Maroubra. The third possibility is even more horrifying, and
therefore almost certainly not true: c) DoFA are lying.

It's all a bit alarming, as another little piece of good local habitat gets

Rod Gardner

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