Re: Bowra

To: <>
Subject: Re: Bowra
From: Dean Portelli <>
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:21:04 +1000
Hi All,

 I had deliberately avoided addressing specific comments that people have 
contributed, as I feel to do so properly requires a more in depth discussion of 
the approaches to reserve design, the objectives of biodiversity conservation, 
and the population dynamics and resilience to disturbance of different types 
(and species) of flora and fauna. I simply do not have the time to indulge in 
this discussion at present. However, I briefly reply to Chris's and Nicci's 
comments below.

 I don't believe the size of Bowra is too small to sustain populations, 
particularly if the surrounding land provides at least refugia or corridors for 
species (i.e. reserve size is only likely to become an issue in the event the 
surrounding area is turned into a 'wasteland'). The property is certainly large 
enough and sufficiently heterogenous to maintain populations of small mammals, 
reptiles, frogs, and indeed many of the resident bird species (for example, 
several hundred Hall's babblers live on the property). Furthermore, I cannot be 
as confident as Nicci that many of the bird species are nomadic and dependent 
on the surrounding area - the reality is that i) most of the species that make 
conserving Bowra attractive are resident or sedentary, and ii) because of the 
natural water sources, the quality of the remnant habitats and the properties 
position in the landscape Bowra is more likely to act as a refuge for the 
surrounding area than vice versa (although this very much depends on where the 
rain falls!). Lastly, the fact that Bowra is not surrounded by protected land 
is, in my view, a positive argument for its protection not a negative one since 
like I said Bowra could act as a buffer to environmental change (both 
anthropogenic and natural, e.g. drought) in the surrounding area. This 
situation is typical of over 90% of reserves in Australia! Importantly, 
conserving Bowra is likely to have spin-off benefits in community education and 
luring other conservation interests to the area. It would also increase the 
diversity of bioregions currently represented in protected land in Australia - 
here it is important to note that biodiversity conservation is about much more 
than birds!.

 A minor point regarding artificial watering points which are topical in the 
management of arid and semi-arid environments, and raised by Nicci: birds on 
Bowra generally do not congregate at these and from my observations 
birdwatcher's spend more time away from these areas while at Bowra than at 
them. It is important to note that Bowra has two large near-permanent natural 
water bodies that are part of two creeks that traverse the property. While 
there are bore drains, troughs and a couple of dams the bird life (both in 
terms of abundance and species composition) is much higher at these natural 
sites. So AWP's at Bowra do not appear to have a great influence on bird life 
(unlike in other areas where these have been studied such as in Mallee and arid 
far-western NSW, both places which naturally lack surface water!).

Cheers, Dean

Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2008 00:20:18 +0930From: : 
: Re: [Birding-Aus] Re: BowraCC: 
 Dean,My email was not suggesting that Bowra isn't 
worth purchasing, only commenting that the argument that a conservation 
organisation should purchase it "because it's good for birds" doesn't hold much 
traction with me (or with the conservation organisations it seems).  Your 
response is certainly very interesting, and answers several of the questions I 
would have except the point that Nicci raised about the low viability of Bowra 
fauna populations based on the amount of habitat available.  Having visited 
Bowra (as you would no doubt remember) I can certainly attest for the natural 
beauty of the area, and for a working property the condition is definitely 
good.  I certainly agree that a covenant or purchase to maintain the status quo 
of the property (conservation managed but with continued production) would be a 
good solution.Regards,Chris
On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 5:55 PM, Dean Portelli <> wrote:
Hi all, The conservation value of Bowra has been questioned by several 
contributors. As I am more familiar with Bowra than anyone else on birding-aus 
(except Ian and Julie, the owners, of course) and some misleading (and poorly 
considered) information has been presented I have added my two-cents worth.I 
won't dwell on the bird species richness except to mention that it includes i) 
6 species listed as Threatened in Queensland, four of which are resident 
breeding species on the property, while the remaining two are nomads (one of 
which has been recorded breeding on Bowra), and ii) a large number of species 
that are largely restricted to or more abundant in this part of Australia. The 
birds aside, I believe Bowra has high conservation value for several reasons. 
First, the property contains substantial areas of natural vegetation 
communities ('habitats') that have minimal grazing-related degradation due to 
sensitive land management practices and low stocking levels. Importantly, the 
encroachment of woody weeds, which is a symptom or poorly-managed grazed land 
is slow and not extensive on Bowra. Furthermore, the vegetation communities on 
the property are representative of the entire Mulga Lands Bioregion, which is 
poorly conserved in the public reserve system and not represented within the 
private reserve system. Second, the species richness of other vertebrates, 
while poorly-studied, appears to be considerable (contrary to one person's 
comments). For example, 18 species of frog have been recorded on the property, 
including a threatened species. This is probably the highest species richness 
for this group possible within the entire Bioregion and western Queensland/NSW! 
The reptile fauna includes an impressive list of elapid snakes, and even a 
skink which has only previously been recorded in localities several hundred 
kilometres to the north. The mammal fauna is very poorly known but at least in 
recent history includes the Kultarr and still includes the Little Pied Bat, 
both threatened species in QLD. Last, the condition of the land (including the 
vegetation) on the property relative to the entire district is apparently well 
above average according to a local consultant who inspected the property and 
has extensive experience in the Mulga Lands.Cheers, 
Dean_________________________________________________________________Are you 
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