Re: Waterbird numbers lowest in 20 years

Subject: Re: Waterbird numbers lowest in 20 years
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:34:47 +1000

"Be alert but not too alarmed about the reported low numbers of waterbirds in east coast drought areas.  The current situation is almost certainly no more than a cyclic and temporary event.

Before we forecast imminent global crisis and extinction, we need to benchmark what is normal.

What Ian says is right, waterbird numbers have always been boom and bust.  We are currently in a bust cycle!  However, the impacts of this drought is being complicated by other issues, particularly those of impoundments.  The Macquarie River in the Central West of NSW is dammed above Wellington (Burrendong Dam).  This effectively means that whatever significant rainfall is received is captured by the dam.  Rainfall events that would have resulted in several small floods didn't get beyond the dam.  The dam is currently at 17% capacity, just over a year ago it was just over 1% (that's one percent)!  It's not just the amount of water that's available for ducks to sit on, it's also about ensuring healthy wetlands.  The Macquarie Marshes has large areas of River Red Gum that are now thought to be dead having effectively died of thirst during the drought.  Had the small floods that may have occurred be! en allowed down the river these trees would be alive.

There's lots of reasons why we have these dams but their current management really doesn't appear take into account the long-tern viability of natural environments downstream.

Now please read the disclaimer below!


David Geering
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
Department of Environment & Conservation
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo  NSW  2830
Ph: 02 6883 5335 or Freecall 1800 621 056
Fax: 02 6884 9382

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