FW: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

To: "'Denise Goodfellow'" <>
Subject: FW: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 17:29:02 +1000
Hi Denise and others

Several months ago, there was a story about Gamba Grass on an ABC
current affairs show (I think it may have been Stateline). The Story
also highlighted the lack of concern/knowledge about this grass in the
Top End. This grass if left uncontrolled would create monocultures of
habitat throughout tropical Australia, proving unfit for a variety of
woodland and grassland species as you mention below. Besides the natural
environment, the impact of this grass would also be disastrous for the
rural economy as well.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Russell
Sent: Monday, 27 June 2005 11:43 AM
To: birding aus
Subject: Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Denise Goodfellow <>
> Date: 24 June 2005 3:00:16 PM
> To: Michael Hunter <>, Russell Woodford  
> <>, Charles J Patterson <>
> Subject: Farewell Gouldian Finch?
> Russell, you might like to post this to all.
> On the subject of developers - they simply raze whole suburbs in  
> Darwin and
> surrounds, and have been doing so for decades.  I first noted this  
> as an
> alderman in the early 1980s.
> Yet when members of the rural garden club complained about the loss of
> species in their gardens the other day, they weren't blaming  
> developers, but
> orchardists.  Mango orchards have replaced much of the open forest and
> woodland around Darwin, and look like taking over the whole area  
> from the
> city to Mt Bundey Station on the Arnhem Highway.
> But rural gardeners were also concerned about an even larger  
> threat, and not
> only to avifauna.
> It's called Gamba grass.  This bulky African species grows to 4  
> metres in
> height and forms a thicket so dense that a 4WD has little chance of  
> forcing
> a way through.
> Fire-adapted this grass burns so hot that our fire-tolerant  
> eucalypts etc
> have little chance of survival.  Even in the early dry season, our  
> usually
> cool fires are burning the tops of trees ten metres tall.  What isn't
> destroyed by fire, is suffocated.  It grows in most habitats,  
> taking over
> whole vegetation communities.
> Here I quote from an Environment Centre release:
> Gamba grass, like so many other serious weeds in the NT, was  
> introduced to
> benefit the cattle industry.  It is now overrunning the Darwin  
> rural area
> and scientists at (one) forum warned that at the  current rate of  
> spread
> most of the Top End will be covered with gamba in 50-80 years.  The
> ecological, social and economic impacts of this would be utterly  
> disastrous,
> scientists warned.
> Gamba Grass has the potential to spread right across northern  
> Australia from
> coast to coast.  Now, let's see what birds it will knock out.  For  
> a start
> there's Chestnut-backed Button-quail, Partridge Pigeon, Gouldian  
> Finch, and
> Yellow-rumped Mannikin.  I can send the map of potential coverage  
> to anyone
> who is interested.  And there should be enough information  
> available through
> Google to convince any doubters.
> I remember the outcry generated by first the gold mine in Gouldian  
> Finch
> habitat at Mt Todd, and then the destruction of patches of habitat  
> where
> Gouldian Finches fed, for the railway.  And recently there's been  
> much done
> to alert people about the threat cane toads pose to fauna.  The  
> impact of
> cane toads will pale into insignificance if gamba spreads to the  
> extent
> predicted.  But few seem to be concerned.
> Incidentally, it's still legal to plant Gamba grass (it was originally
> imported in the 1930s for pastoralists who still I understand, sing  
> its
> praises).
> I tried to highlight the issue during the last election.  Our new  
> member had
> not even heard of the grass, and I'd say that applies to most  
> politicians
> and Top End residents.
> I urge all concerned to write to the Chief Minister, the Hon. Clare  
> Martin,
> PO Box 3146, Darwin NT 0801.
> Regards
> Denise
> Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
> 61 (0)8 89 328306
> 1/7 Songlark Street, Bakewell, NT 0832

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