There are two issues that Greg raises here.
Firstly, the question of legislative protection of vegetation/threatened
species habitat. I am not certain of the details for Qld but in NSW this would
either be covered by the Native Vegetation Act (though may be too small an area
and fall under what is called a Routine Agricultural Management Activity or
RAMA) or Threatened Species Act (or potentially EPBC for the federal government
for Grass Owl). It also may be that the habitat is just regenerating grass from
previously cleared farmland, and this then gets complicated. However, if it is
a natural vegetation community then maybe laws need to change in Queensland to
give additional protection.
Secondly, the point about databases has been raised by a couple of people and
has been discussed many times before - but the fact is Birding-Aus (or any of
the other birding sites) is not the best place to report records. 'The
government' (and I am one) does not have time to scroll through lists of
reportings on multiple websites whenever a development comes along - many of
these don't have enough detail to actually work out if they are in the
devlopment location. Occasionally I might chase up an interesting or
significant record and enter into the Atlas of NSW Wildlife, but I see many
other records that I don't chase up (the records from Round Hill NR are a
classic list). The only way to get threatened species records utilised in the
planning process is to report it to the relevant state agency. As has been
mentioned, in Queensland this is WildNET but as far as I know this does not
cover all of the state and I don't know how records get included. Second best
option is probably the Birds Australia Atlas (sometimes that data does get
checked) and possibly a third option is to check the local government agency to
see if they have a database for records.
Tyerefore if you want records used in the planning process, approach the
relevant agency in your state (hopefully they don't fob you off) and supply the
records so that they don't slip through the cracks (or get cleared because the
decision maker didn't know (private land is always the hardest as it is
generally difficult to get access).
> Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 16:28:28 +1000
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Grass owl habitat destroyed
> I discovered this morning that all the tall grassland on two of the four
> sites where I have found Eastern Grass-Owl on the Sunshine Coast in recent
> months have been razed by local sugarcane farmers. I assume this is
> part-and-parcel of the usual farming cycle, but it's pretty unsettling all
> the same. These areas also had King Quail, large numbers of species such as
> Tawny Grassbird and Buff-banded Rail, and they attracted plenty of good
> raptors such as Spotted Harrier and Australian Hobby.
> It occurred to me that there are no reserves anywhere in southeast
> Queensland that protect this kind of habitat.
> It also raised questions in my mind about the role of the state authorities
> in protecting rare wildlife. Since I moved to the coast from Brisbane last
> year, I have reported new sites for the endangered Black-breasted
> Button-quail and Ground Parrot on Birding-Aus and in other public forums,
> along with records for rarities such as Marbled Frogmouth and Eastern Grass
> Owl. Yet I have not once been contacted by the state government officers
> responsible for wildlife protection, or by the Sunshine Coast Regional
> Council. I assume that in Queensland, the authorities do not bother to
> monitor these forums. I wonder if this is the case in other states?
> Should it be our responsibility to report these things to government
> authorities? I would have thought not, provided they are published publicly.
> Greg Roberts
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