Re: birding-aus extinction predictions

Subject: Re: birding-aus extinction predictions
From: "Peter Menkhorst"<>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 15:28:05 +1000
Barry Trail makes some very good points regarding the urgent need to
protect all woodland remnants.

'shouldn't we be aiming to protect and ultimately improve habitat
where Regent's and other threatened birds once occurred regularly but no
longer do so?  So that we can potentially allow the species to expand to at
least parts of their former range?'

 He can rest assured that the Regent Honeyeater recovery plan has this as
an objective - "to maintain and enhance the value of Regent Honeyeater
habitat at the key sites, and throughout the former range, by active
participation in the land-use planning process... blah blah blah. I would
argue that the Regent Honeyeater recovery effort has greatly increased
awareness of the values of all box-ironbark remnants amongst govt employees
and landholders. That is also one of the aims of the program.

However, when it comes to the crunch, and big developments are at stake, we
are required to define things closely. What is the former range? How do you
know? What is essential habitat? Why will selective logging reduce the
value of habitat? etc etc. As David Geering has pointed out, a quick scan
of the available data [which is weak, but is all we have] suggests that
neither Goonoo nor Piliga are particularly important for Regents - few
records and lack the eucalypt communities Regents seem to prefer.
Therefore, they may not meet Barry's own criterion of 'places where Regents
once occurred regularly'.  Any other state forests which might be harvested
for this plant will also need to be looked at individually. Of course there
are numerous other values in these forests which ought to preclude
intensive harvesting.

'Surely the Regent Honeyeater Recovery team is aiming to increase the range
of the Regents ultimately and not just keep the birds alive in Capertee,
Chiltern, Barraba and the Taronga Park Zoo?'

Unfortunately, arguments such as "Regent Honeyeaters may one day use this
site" carry little weight in the corridors of power unless supported by
some reasonable data. Therefore, the Regent recovery plan places great
emphasis on collating all records of Regent Honeyeaters, including
historical ones, and trying to understand patterns of movements and habitat
use  - so that the most comprehensive possible picture can be brought to
bear whenever required [hence my earlier posting about the need to document

'isn't it valid for the Regent HE Recovery Team and others to argue
publicly that the woodlands in question should be protected in reserves for
Regent Honeyeaters- which are known to still occasionally use the region??-
as well as the many other species and conservation values at risk'

The Regent Honeyeater recovery team will discuss its contribution to the
debate next week, but I should point out that, at least in Victoria,
recovery teams do not have authority to speak independently in public -
they are established to develop and co-ordinate implementation of recovery
plans, and to advise senior managers of Wildlife Agencies. They can also
advise Ministers, if their advice is sought, and generally lobby through
Departmental channels.

And thanks to John Leonard for reminding us that the system is biassed
against us from the start.

 that's enough for one day

Peter Menkhorst

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