Tampling birdos and villains

Subject: Tampling birdos and villains
From: Craig Williams <>
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 15:05:38 +1000
HI Birders.

Spot on alan re the complexities of information and questions of power when it 
comes to threatened species etc.  But ...  as we all know there is considerable 
diversity characterising the participants on the birding-aus list, ranging from 
individuals who spot an occasional bird to ecological consultants and 
professionals involved in critical policy work, to various commercial 
operators, whether birding tours and/or photography and/or other business 
activities.  And there are, whether we like it or not, a handful of cronies who 
work exclusively for the development industry, whether in a scientific capacity 
or whatever, who observe these sorts of lists to try and preempt development 
consent problems, among other things.  Oh, yes, some of these cronies may very 
well have individual interests in birds of course.  Good on them.

I for one have major problems with the idea that the information posted to this 
list can be used by commercial operators who are not actively involved in 
ethically approved, professionally motivated conservation initiatives and 
management, but there ain't nothin I can do about this except express my 
concerns from time to time as cases come up.

I've learnt that if I come across a significant sighting it is in the best 
interests of the birds themselves for a report to be made that is not 
coordinate specific: I might mention the general area, but most certainly I 
would not give specific location details on a public list such as this.  There 
might conceivably be situations where I would provide specific details, but I 
would be very careful in trying to manage the use of information so provided.  
For example, if a commercial birding tour company wanted to find out where I 
saw a Masked Owl last week in the Lake Macquarie area after I posted a sighting 
to this list, they would be welcome to contact me personally to request 
information, but I would want to be very very sure about the punters involved 
before I passed any details on.   I might run a check on their activities to 
determine whether they were ethical operators, or just cronies in to make a 
fast buck while pretending to "care" about bird matters: I might label this the 
windowdressing assessment.

I would also expect any information used or gleaned * that is again USED OR 
GLEANED - by commercial operators to be treated like any other commercial 
transaction: you pay for what you get.  If someone tries to get away with using 
information without acknowledgement of the source for commercial benefit, then 
I think it perfectly reasonable for the commercial operator to, for example, 
perhaps expect a letter from a solicitor requesting further details.

If any individuals or commercial operators rely on this list for information, 
surely it is reasonable to expect, if not some direct or indirect contribution 
to birding-aus, then at least some acknowledgement of the role of this 
organisation and a “Thanks for all the fish” disclaimer!

To me, this is the beginnings of best practice.  But ... someone might have 
some better ideas.

Craig Williams

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