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Unique Habitat Under Threat

Help Save Northern Territory Treasure

Denise Goodfellow, bird guide and campaigner writes:

Birders who’ve visited Howard Springs in the Top End may have noticed signs declaring that the area is no long fit for swimming because of the water quality. Despite vegetation, both in and around the main pool, and a colony of flying-foxes being blamed, it seems the real cause is the massive drop in the water table, some 8 metres in the last few decades. Over 30,000 bore holes are now established in the area, drawing water for people, crops and livestock.

It seems that the monsoon vine-forest is now shrinking, with numbers of large trees dying off.

Howard Springs is a prime spot for Rainbow Pitta and a number of other monsoon forest birds, and it is a safe place to walk around, unlike many similar spots around Darwin (e.g. Holmes Jungle), and safety is a crucial issue when many visiting birders are women.Worse still, this is not the only patch of monsoon vine-forest under threat. A large patch of pristine vine-thicket along the road to Wickham Point (near Palmerston) is to have its status changed from conservation to development, for the Inpex development (INternational PEtroleum EXploration Corporation). This is the only accessible monsoon vine-thicket I know of within relatively easy reach of Darwin, apart from East Point. Unlike East Point there are Rainbow Pitta here all year. It’s also the best spot I know for Large-tailed Nightjar; there being four birds at any one time. And we once saw a stunning 3m. long Carpet Python in the area.

Apparently Berry Springs is also under threat because of the large number of bores feeding off that aquifer.

I plan to lodge a submission against the clearing of the monsoon vine-thicket on the Wickham Point Road, and it would be great if others would join me? The closing date is 12 August, 2011. The land is Part Section 1813, 1814 and 1890 Hundred of Ayers, 497 Wickham Point Road, Wickham, 0832.

Those wishing to place a submission should write to :
Michael Holmes
Dept of Lands and Planning
Strategic Lands Planning
GPO Box 1680
Darwin,
NT,
Australia 0801
Email address: , entitled “Att: Michael Holmes”, with copy to .

4th July 2014