Inland farms needed

Subject: Inland farms needed
From: RAOU Publicity <>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 10:58:44 +1100 (EST)

 The aim of the RAOU's The Birds On Farms Project is to provide accurate
data on the impact of Landcare iniatives, specifically as to their impact on
birds.  a result of interest to bird people and farmers.

We have a problem, not enough farms in the inland rangelands of Australia
have responded; most likely because we have not got the message out to them.
Can you help? Do you have any contact with farms west of the Dividing Range,
the Kimberlys etc.?  If you do could you ask them if they can help the birds
of Australia by counting birds in a 50ha block on their property, each
season (four times a year) for two years. 

Please pass this information on to them:

How many birds Outback?
Many city-based conservationists are unaware of the care and affection our
farmers of the dry inland have for their country.  So when news is made
about protecting the environment, a lot of attention is focused on wet
coastal forests instead of the efforts of landowners to link remnant native
vegetation, to fence off others, or to revegetate damaged rangelands.  The
impact of these unsung champions of conservation may now, however, come to
light with a nation-wide survey of bird numbers.

The Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union launched its national Birds on
Farms Survey over 18 months ago and is currently surveying well over 200
farms.  Since birds feed close to the top of the food chain, they are
excellent indicators of the health of the environment.  Healthy farms, it
has been discovered, often have healthy bird populations.  Farmers
volunteering to count birds are making some interesting discoveries about
their properties. 

However, very few of the farmers volunteering to monitor their birdlife are
found in Australia's dry heartland--western Queensland, western New South
Wales, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and north and central West
Australia, which together represent 70 % of Australia.  The under
representation of this vast area is unfortunate because the agricultural
system in the rangelands differs from those in the coastal areas in that the
former relies on its lower input agriculture on native pastures, and this
promotes the continued health of many bird species.

However, most of the farms participating so far in the Birds on Farms Survey
are found in the coastal areas with their higher input agriculture.  To
date, the results indicate that farms with extensive single cropping
practises have fewer bird species (around 27 per 50 hectare ) compared to
mixed farms having both cropping and grazing (around 45 species per 50 ha. ). 

Results compiled from rangeland properties could show a completely different
picture, one that may pleasantly surprise the environmentally minded..  The
RAOU's Birds on Farms is looking for participating properties to record
birds on their property and to describe their type of farming or to allow
local bird watchers to compile the data for them.

For information, contact Dr Geoff Barrett, RAOU National Office (03) 9882
2622.  Fax: (03) 9882 2677. or write to :415 Riversdale Rd, Hawthorn East,
VIC 3123.  

Many thanks
Bill Fenton
Marketing Manager
Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union
415 Riversdale Rd
Hawthorn East  Vic  3123
Ph.: (03) 9882 2622
Fax: (03) 9882 2677

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