Minister’s reassurances on endangered cockatoos contradicts EPA warning

Greens Urban Bushland Spokesperson Lynn MacLaren MLC says claims by the Environment Minister that Carnaby’s black cockatoos will be better off under the Government’s Perth-Peel Grown Plan contradict warnings made by the Environmental Protection Authority in a landmark report issued late last year. 

“Minister Jacobs reportedly thinks that the disastrous effects of clearing swathes of critical foraging habitat for endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos can be ameliorated by creating offsets – in other words, earmarking existing bushland outside the urban area for conservation,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“However, as the Environmental Protection Authority explicitly warned in formal strategic advice to the Government last year, ‘Perth and Peel@3.5 Million – Environmental Impacts, Risks and Remedies’, this is not working, especially for Carnaby’s black cockatoos because the offset land includes hardly any new foraging habitat for the cockatoos, and therefore there is a big net loss of foraging habitat for these birds, thus pushing them closer to extinction. 

“It is appalling that the Minister seems not to have heeded this warning from the EPA, which was a rare direct critique of government policy. 

“Ironically, the EPA report was written as its contribution to the joint Federal-State planning process for the Perth-Peel Growth Plan. It is shocking that its warnings are now being ignored. 

“The EPA report states that between October 2010 and May 2015, 1,230 hectares of Carnaby’s black cockatoos foraging habitat in Perth and Peel was approved to be cleared under State and Federal legislation. 

“To offset this loss, more than 6,000 hectares of land was to be acquired and protected – but, as the EPA states, only 150 hectares of new foraging habitat would be created, meaning overall a major loss of foraging habitat has been enacted. 

“To quote the EPA: ‘In summary, less than two per cent of the total area of offsets has been for habitat creation, rehabilitation or revegetation. The EPA does not consider this to be a sustainable long term strategy for any species’. 

“In light of a series of findings, not only by the EPA in this report but also the Supreme Court in its judgement on Roe 8, that WA’s land offsets system has filed and is in complete disarray, I challenge Minister Jacobs to take heed of the EPA’s warning,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“In doing so he cannot fail to comprehend that removing foraging habitat for Carnaby’s within the urban area without creating an equal amount of new foraging habitat is not sustainable for this species.”