Does DSE Want To Drive Malleefowl To Extinction InThe Little Desert?

To: "Judith L-A" <>, <>
Subject: Does DSE Want To Drive Malleefowl To Extinction InThe Little Desert?
From: "Ross Macfarlane" <>
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2011 13:00:30 +1000
I don't think federal legislation (the EP&BC Act) would be applicable in this case as it's not a new project, but I don't know for sure.

I did receive a non-committal reply from Peter Ryan's staff to my email. A few more people raising the same issue might add some weight to my incoherent ranting... :-)

-----Original Message----- From: Judith L-A
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 1:45 PM
Subject: Does DSE Want To Drive Malleefowl To Extinction InThe Little Desert?

May I say that if all this is exact, it provides the very *model* of a
rousing call: explains the issue, & the urgency, and provides immediate
avenues of email action (by including the most appropriate email addresses
at the end) which one can respond to without moving from the screen. ROSS,
oughtn't there to be some federal-gov email addresses too? -- surely what'
you're describing breaches protective fed legislation?


*To*:"'Birding-aus'" <>*Subject*:Does DSE Want To
Drive Malleefowl To Extinction In The Little Desert?*From*:"Ross Macfarlane"
<>*Date*:Wed, 7 Sep 2011 20:42:01 +1000

... Because if they don’t, why are they hell-bent on burning every last hectare
in the National Park on a 10- to 20-year cycle?

<Engage full-on rant mode...>

To all those who’ve had the chance to see malleefowl at Little Desert Lodge, or elsewhere in the Little Desert, consider yourselves privileged. The Victorian
Malleefowl Recovery Group has been monitoring nest sites at Kiata FFR and
hasn’t seen an active mound in over a decade. Large areas of the Little Desert have been burned in wildfires and in DSE controlled burns over the past decade,
and the current fire plans increase, not reduce the impacts.

I’ve just made a submission on behalf of the VMRG – submissions closed on 29
August. Today I’ve had a form letter from Wimmera DSE informing me that we will
receive a formal response in early October. Nice. But in the next paragraph,
they explain that they are “currently funded to treat 11,900ha of planned
burning on public land this  financial year.” The punchline? “The final plan
will be approved by DSE’s South West Regional Manager in late September 2011.” And in fact, one of the proposed burns we commented on, 2,000 hectares in the
western Little Desert, has already been burned. !#$%^&!!

There is at least one burn which is high on DSE’s 2011-12 list which is right in the guts of an area where we have found evidence of malleefowl. It’s in the vicinity of Mt Turner / Broughton’s Waterhole, east of the Kaniva-Edenhope Road in the centre of the National Park. VMRG and Nhill SES line-searched this area
in June 2011 and found several new nests, including at least one that was
filled with litter for use in the 2011 breeding season. The burn is 11.N04,
LITTLE DESERT - BARNEYS TRACK, 1052 Ha, planned for Spring 2011. If it goes
ahead, that nest will not survive.

Why does this matter? – Because malleefowl have a distinct preference for
long-unburned mallee for breeding sites – 20-30 years plus, so there is a
predominant overhead canopy and abundant leaf litter for compost in their
nests. The current DSE / Parks Victoria burn strategy in the Little Desert
means there is precious little habitat left where they can breed.

VMRG coordinates an ongoing research project started by Dr Joe Benshemesh, who
is without doubt the foremost expert on malleefowl in the world. This is his
response to the Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendation for a 5% annual
controlled burn target on all public land in Victoria: “If you want to send
malleefowl to extinction in Victoria, put the whole of the mallee on a 20-year
burn cycle.”

If anyone else feels as strongly about this stupid policy as I do, a
strongly-worded email to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith, the Premier Ted Bailieu or Deputy Premier Peter Ryan couldn’t go astray,
with (as a minimum) a direct request that burn 11.N04 not proceed. (Emails

Excuse my French people, but this is bullshit.

<rant mode disengaged>

Ross Macfarlane




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