ADrail the Joint Venture responsible for the design and
construction of the Alice Springs - Darwin Railway emphatically
denies that earthworks operations in the region between the Edith
River and Fergusson River have put the Gouldian Finch in jeopardy.
It is important to note that the corridor allocated to ADrail to
construct the new railway coincides in this region with the existing
Northern Australian Railway (NAR) alignment, which has been used for
some years by the head of the Gouldian Finch Recovery Program, Dr
Milton Lewis, to access a series of drainage lines to observe wet
season feeding habits of the Gouldian Finch.
The ADrail Environmental Management Plan for the Gouldian
Finch Wet Season Feeding Habitat commenced in May 2001 when the
issue was raised by the ADrail Environmental Manager with the
Environmental Advisory Group, which represents NT Government
Departments. The plan then evolved as follows:
Extensive liaison was undertaken with Dr Lewis, including
sending an ADrail Environmental Officer into the field with Dr Lewis
for three days to observe the habits of Gouldian Finches in the
Yinberrie Hills well to the east of the rail corridor and seeking
his advice on the best means on minimising detrimental impacts
resulting from construction activities on the designated rail
ADrail voluntarily rescheduled its construction activities in
the 20 km of corridor during the Wet Season 2001/2002 to avoid
disrupting Dr Lewis' observations. Earthworks clearing was commenced
in April 2002, but ADrail restricted this clearing at 11 marked
drainage points to less than half of the width normally allowed for
Construction foremen and managers were thoroughly briefed on
the significance of the area and the restrictions that had been
placed on the corridor.
A single swamp bulldozer fitted with low ground pressure
tracks and driven by a subcontractor to ADrail was sent into four of
the drainage areas to clear vegetation and in the process
inadvertently cleared slightly beyond the marked areas.
The incident was voluntarily reported by ADrail to the
liaison officer for NT Parks and Wildlife so that the impact could
be assessed by experts appointed by the NT Government.
The experts have undertaken an assessment of the area and
have recommended remedial measures, which ADrail will
The extra clearing has not been detrimental to the habitat
and there has been no report that it was devastating to the survival
of the species.
ADrail places considerable emphasis on environmental
rehabilitation and with respect to Gouldian Finch wet season feeding
sites has taken steps to gather seeds for grass species that are
particularly favoured by the birds. These seeds will be sown prior
to, and during, the pending wet in numerous areas including those in
the vicinity of Pine Creek that have been reported by members of the
public as finch feeding sites.
TUESDAY 23 JULY