ADRAIL vs Gouldians

Subject: ADRAIL vs Gouldians
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 14:42:20 +0930
Makes us wonder.....
  ADrail Media Release

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 corridor.

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.

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 implement.

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 2002-07-23




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