A COALITION of scientists, traditional owners, and five environmental groups met with state forestry minister Dave Kelly this week calling on him to halt the harvest of pine trees needed by endangered cockatoos.
The pines are currently being cleared from the Gnangara Mound, a huge sandy patch above a groundwater reservoir spreading from the Swan River up to Gingin.
Gnangara’s water levels have declined in recent years and the clearing to get more water back into the aquifer, but it’s disputed whether that’ll even work.
Perth’s cockatoo population has dropped more than 30 per cent over the past decade according to the Save the Black Cockatoos Coalition, and they fear further drops if the clearing continues.
Campaign coordinator Paddy Cullen said in a press statement this week: “The situation is desperate: If we take away their food and their home, the population of Ngolyenoks [black cockatoos], will plummet and perhaps never recover.”
Noongar traditional owner Daniel Garlett said ngolyenoks hold a special place in the landscape, and are a unifying presence across cultural regions: “They are harbingers of rain and for us they are spiritual messengers.”
There’s multiple ministries involved with the pine clearing and Mr Kelly said the call would have to be made by premier Mark McGowan. The coalition’s now seeking a meeting with the premier, and plans to request he set up a ministerial task force to address the Gnangara clearing.
THE WA government has given Murdoch University $1.5 million for conservation research into black cockatoos, while dithering over a revegetation project scientists say could avert thousands of bird deaths.
Black cockatoo populations have rapidly declined in the last decade, and the five-year research project led by Murdoch researcher Kris Warren will study the effects of habitat loss, climate change and disease on three WA’species; Carnaby’s, Baudin’s, and forest red-tailed cockatoos.
Using satellite tracking technology, Prof Warren’s researchers will monitor the birds’ migratory movement on the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain and in the South-West forest region, identifying areas that can be developed for urban planning, and those which should be conserved.
ONE of the aces Save the Black Cockatoos hope they’ve got up their sleeve is Fremantle filmmaker Jane Hammond.
Ms Hammond’s last documentary Cry of the Forests became a key rallying point before the McGowan government’s decision to axe logging in native forests, and now she’s turned her attention to the plight of the black cockatoo.
Ms Hammond said her upcoming doco Black Cockatoo Crisis would be about what the community could do to help.
“They will be extinct in 20 years unless we do something” Ms Hammond said.
“If we lose them we lose so much”.
She said the documentary gave the “heroes” working to save cockies the recognition and help they needed by telling their stories. While there was a grim message behind her documentary, she says there’s a “message of hope in all these stories”.
Ms Hammond said she wanted the audience to “feel moved to take action” and spread the word amongst friends about the crisis facing black cockatoos.
She hopes people will go out and plant trees, in the hopes of attracting and creating new homes for these birds.
Despite the grim message of her documentary.
But making a documentary doesn’t come cheap and Ms Hammond has a crowdfunding page at https://documentaryaustralia. com.au/project/black-cockatoo-crisis/ where she’s about a third of the way to her $170,000 target.