Ark worth of animals at cleared wetlands

THE endangered carnaby’s cockatoo is amongst scores of birds made homeless with the stroke of a pen when the WA planning commission approved the clearing of a privately owned Bayswater wetlands.

More than 20 bird species, seven types of frogs, a dozen types of reptiles and multiple fish have been recorded at the small wetland.

The Voice has seen three independent expert reports on the environmental value of the land, which was not considered in the WAPC’s approval allowing the D’Orazio family to subdivide its property which encroaches on the Carter Wetland.

A 2009 Birds Australia report recorded 23 different bird species, including a nesting swamp hen, and a mystery bird, “a small unidentified passerine…with a black cap and chunky appearance” that none of the four observers could identify.

• These oblong turtles were hatched from eggs their mumma laid in a block neighbouring the Carter Wetlands. Photo by Brett Klucznik

• These oblong turtles were hatched from eggs their mumma laid in a block neighbouring the Carter Wetlands.
Photo by Brett Klucznik

Restricted

A report in August this year by Consulting Ecologists’ Mike and Mandy Bamford found vibrant frog life, including three not seen at the site previously, and a quacking frog “restricted to a few wetlands on the coastal plain”.

The frog population on the Carter wetland is actually more diverse than the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, the report says.

While some will be fine if they hop over to the bird sanctuary, “two other frog species, the banjo frog and the moaning frog, may rely entirely upon the Carter’s block swamp because their breeding biology relies on predictable seasonal water level changes”, the report says.

Remnant vegetation

Consultant botanist Malcolm Trudgen recently wrote to Environment House (the group campaigning to save the wetlands) saying: “Areas of remnant vegetation such as this tend to be written off as small and degraded and therefore not worth preserving.

“This is an error of assessment as all areas of remnant vegetation should be assessed both for intrinsic worth and as part of the wider environment.”

Remnant vegetation has local significance, which in this case had not been fully documented, Mr Trudgen says.

“Such fragmented systems are particularly vulnerable to being reduced in viability by the ‘death of a thousand cuts’, that is the loss of seemingly unimportant small areas that collectively support the viability of the native flora and fauna of the system.

“Destroy enough of these small areas, and the system collapses.”

by DAVID BELL

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