That is a good point. Believe it or not, the NSW Threatened Species Act (1975)
recognises this very concept and provides for recognition, assessment and
protection of "potential habitat" for threatened species. It is not often
applied very well, but it is there. Obviously, potential habitat is less likely
to constrain a proposed development than the presence of threatened species is.
The Qld Natutre Conservation Act (1992) and the federal EPBC Act do not
recognise and protect the habitat of threatened species in this way, and they
are the two Acts that apply at Bimblebox NR. I'm not sure about the other
In the case of the Bristebirds, the NSW TSC Act would protect the site of the
exterminated population (were it in NSW), in theory.
In the finch case it would be difficult to apply NSW-like considerations.
Black-throated Finch habitat is grassy woodlands and its range was south of NSW
border to about Ingham and from near the coast to inland a few hundred kms (ie.
most of the Brigalow Belt). That's an area probably bigger than Victoria, and
a lot of habitat. There would need to be some evidence of historical records or
some other line of evidence to indicate that the Bimblebox Nature Reserve is in
some way more likely to support the finches than is the rest of the
unoccupied grassy woodlands of the Brigalow Belt.
The reality is that environmental legislation is not designed and not applied
to prevent development. The majority view in the Australian community is that,
on the whole, development is a good thing. Legislation cannot provide for value
judgements that one development is good and another is bad. There can be bans
on something like uranium mining and asbestos mining, or on certain practises,
but there is no blanket ban on coal mining. So the legislation requires an
EIS (or similar) and the evidence and the arguments are complied by the
proponent, the public is offered a chance to comment, and a long list of issues
is systematically checked over by bureaucrats who then prepare a list of
restrictions and conditions. That is the system.
What is most disturbing about this case is that Bimblebox Nature Reserve was
supposedly donated to the Qld Government (or the Qld people) for the purposes
of perpetual conservation, and yet Qld legislation does not protect that land
from open-cut mining. That is a disgrace, it seems like treachery. A
legislative amendment is needed to fix that problem, but I can't see that
happening in the current political climate in Qld.
From: Allan Richardson <>
To: Andrew Bell <>
Cc: '? birding-aus' <>
Sent: Sunday, 30 October 2011 10:17 PM
Subject: Black-throated Finches and mining
there is a question that never seems to be asked in relation to receding
populations, but seems to come up in my thinking on a regular basis.
There is a tendency to write habitat off in relation to development
assessments, when it is confirmed that a subject species is no longer present
and hasn't been for some time, Greg Roberts' Eastern Bristlebird habitat may be
a candidate for such a notion in the future, as an example, as is
Black-throated Finch habitat.
On the other hand threatened species are subject to recovery actions by
government departments to promote their return to a more secure status. If the
southern population of Black-throated Finch is confirmed as not being present
at this site, should the habitat be rendered unusable? If so, where will the
proposed recovering populations live?
The writing off of previously occupied habitat, due to a threatened species not
being present is surely ensuring that the species will remain threatened,
particularly in that area.......yes....no?
On 22/10/2011, at 12:48 PM, Andrew Bell wrote:
> Which I'm sure leaves most of us who are naive to this (which I suspect
> includes most of the general public) totally gobsmacked. I guess one could
> hope for an intervention to maintain the spirit of, as opposed to the legal
> status of, such a reserve
> Andrew Bell
> -----Original Message-----
> On Behalf Of Rita & Ian
> Sent: Friday, 21 October 2011 3:23 PM
> To: Peter Ewin; ? birding-aus
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Black-throated Finches and mining
> Hi everyone
> some comments - mining leases can be issued under the Mineral Resources Act
> 1989 over Nature Refuges. The declaration of a Nature Refuge, even thought
> it is declared under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, does not preclude
> The clearing of vegetation for mining is not assessed under the Vegetation
> Management Act 1999.