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Superb Cock-up

Bureaucratic blunder threatens parrots

A nesting colony of the globally threatened Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii has been devastated because of a bureaucratic mistake by the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

The error was discovered when a botanist alerted the department, triggering an audit that ended the logging of the protected site.

As few as 150 Superb Parrots still breed in Victoria, in a handful of nesting colonies around the Barmah State Forest near Echuca. The Australian endemic species is now mostly confined to New South Wales, where about 6,000 survive.To stop the species declining any further, nesting trees are supposed to be protected from logging by buffer zones of at least 100 metres. Their locations are a tightly guarded secret to keep the birds safe from poachers.

Superb parrots are one of most elegant and graceful parrots we have in this country. The more we keep chipping away at the edges of where they can live, the closer they get to extinction." — Chris Tzaros, Birds Australia

Staff from the the Department of Sustainability and Environment forgot to check maps before approving a new logging plan in March 2003. As a result, from February to June 2005 loggers felled almost 6,000 tonnes of river red gums in about 60 per cent of one of the largest superb parrot nesting colonies in the forest. The Department is hiring a Superb Parrot specialist to investigate and will overhaul its logging approvals process.

However, logging will soon resume in the area, after the State Government this week closed tenders for another 4,000 tonnes of river red gums to be cut in the Barmah State Forest, along with 3,000 tonnes from the nearby Gunbower Island State Forest.

4th July 2014