Cox Scrub

Subject: Cox Scrub
From: Ian Reid <>
Date: Wed, 08 May 2013 12:37:15 +0930
On 07/05/2013 18:58, Peter Waanders wrote:
Hi Ian & others,
This is very sad indeed. Cox Scrub was one of SA's last remaining strongholds of the endangered parkeri race of Chestnut-rumped Heathwren as well as the endangered intermedius race of Southern Emu-wren. The conservation park covers around 700 ha, 500 ha of which appear to have been destroyed. So it'd be fair to say there's no hope left for these birds. Even more frustrating given that millions of $$ of funding are being poured into recovery efforts for both species on surrounding farms, while one poorly executed Department of Environment burn-off no doubt means that both subspecies can now be written off.

I sincerely hope you are wrong about writing them off, Peter, though fear you are not. Having read more about it since I saw the info about the burnoff, the figures are worse than I reported, and worse than in Peter's msg above. As TerryG noted, the park is 544 ha, so 90% has been burnt.

Apparently the same problem -- reignition of a "controlled burn" -- occurred in Deep Creek in 2012. Perhaps someone in DEWNR has it in for Chestnut-rumped Heathwren and Southern Em-wren :-(.

More seriously, I find it deeply frustrating and wonder if anything can be done about this. Is anyone accountable? The answer from DEWNR/CFS seems to be that controlled burns are necessary to reduce fuel loads, and that fire is unpredictable so "these things happen". There is also an apparent attitude that as long as life and property are protected, "it's ok". Furthermore, various comments from the public on the CFS facebook page (and other places) fail to understand the gravity for heath-dwelling fauna -- comments about how well the land recovers, the value of fire and that the indiginous population conducted burning for millenia, etc. But that was in an environment where the native flora and fauna was not isolated in islands in a sea of agriculture. The flora in Cox Scrub will of course recover, and the larger more mobile fauna will also repopulate (some will even benefit in the short-term), but it is hard to see how sedentary heath-dwelling species can repopulate naturally when the nearest remaining suitable habitat is 30km or more away.

That was one burn-off too many.

Agreed :-(.




Peter Waanders

Southern Birding Services

PO Box 2008, Berri SA 5343  Australia

mob.: +61 (0)409 763172

sat.: +61 (0)424 212889

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Prof. Ian Reid
School of Computer Science
University of Adelaide
Adelaide, 5005
ph: +61 (08) 83132135


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