Bushfires, Birdlife and Birds Australia

Subject: Bushfires, Birdlife and Birds Australia
From: Chris Tzaros <>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 12:58:45 +1100
Hi David,

You raise the point that the current bushfire crisis in Victoria, NSW and
the ACT is a prime opportunity for the organisation, Birds Australia, to
promote themselves in the media and offer advice to the public on how to
reduce the impact of bushfires on wildlife.  These are valid opinions and
we do intend to be a voice for the birds in the near future, perhaps when
the situation 'cools-off' a little.  

No doubt, you would be aware of the current pressure on Victoria's Bracks
Government with regard to fuel-reduction burning and the (unfortunate)
widespread view held by many that national parks are 'fire hazards'.
Perhaps there are similar Governmental pressures and arguments in other
states/territories as well.  The issue of fuel-reduction burning and
potential impacts on the ecology of natural systems is a 'hot' argument and
one that has recently been debated in Victorian media.  The argument won't
go away and Birds Australia also intends to comment on this issue, ensuring
there is no spontaneous and rash decisions made in the dusty footsteps of
the firefighters, whereby we'll see widespread areas burnt on an all too
frequent basis, thus creating bird conservation issues.

For Birds Australia to use the current event of natural distaster as an
opportunity for a 'membership drive' is probably inappropriate at this
particular time.  It would be nice to see our membership rate increase and
we are in favour of having members that are not always serious birders, but
rural residents or any body else with enough of an interest to join, learn
and help conserve.  There are tempers flying at the moment between those
that believe our national parks are fire hazards and the various
conservation groups, and I actually think that any BA promotion now will
only get people 'hot under the collar' with us and maybe discourage their
support and develop an unfavourable opinion of this organisation.

For those interested, we do have an information sheet, "Forests, Flames and
Feathers" available on our website and as hard copies.  See:

In terms of media publicity, I think this is a separate topic for
discussion, but I would just like to briefly point out that Birds Australia
is readily approached by the media for a variety of bird related matters,
we are seen as a foremost authority and we do get regular media coverage.
And we will contribute to the plethora of advice given to the community
following these dreadful fires.

David Geering wrote:

>One thing that struck me during the Christmas 2001 fires was the amount of 
>footage of displaced wildlife on the news.  We don't seem to be getting 
>this footage this time - perhaps because the fires aren't in Sydney and 
>there are fewer news crews on the ground.  It seems to me that this is a 
>perfect opportunity for Birds Australia to come to the fore and present 
>themselves as an authority on Australian birds to the public.  I think it 
>is pretty well established that Birds Australia need to promote themselves 
>more if they are serious about increasing membership among people with an 
>interest in birds but not necessarily birdwatchers (in the manner of the 
>RSPB in Great Britain).
>This is a perfect opportunity for BA to have a public face on the news and 
>current affairs programs offering suggestions as to how the public can 
>minimise the impact of fires on wildlife.  Just what advise they offer is 
>up to BA - I assume that have a position on this matter.  Such a campaign 
>would need to be sustained and could also incorporate the impact of the 
>drought.  A single identifiable figure is required.  The EPA in NSW has 
>John Dengate while the NSW Fire Service has John Winter.  It doesn't need 
>to be someone immediately identifiable, just a person that becomes 
>recognised as an authority on the subject (whether they are or not is 
>unimportant - they are the face of the organisation).  With time the media 
>gets to know that if they want information on a bird related subject then 
>BA is the place to go.
>It would be nice to see BA trying to promote itself and the cause of 
>David Geering
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Chris Tzaros
Research and Conservation Officer
Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union) 
National Office
415 Riversdale Rd
Hawthorn East, Vic., 3123
Ph: 03-9882-2622
Fax: 03-9882-2677
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