‘Forest rorts’ threaten survival of Swift Parrots: Bob Brown

Swift parrot rally in Hobart

New federal legislation to allow logging of native forests despite current court rulings of illegality is a rort against the majority of Australians who want the forests and wildlife saved, according to former Greens leader Bob Brown.

Brown spoke at a protest to call for protection of the Swift Parrot on Parliament Lawns in Hobart yesterday. Campaigners rallied to oppose current logging of Tasmanian forest which are the feeding and nesting habitat of the critically endangered parrot.

There are now less than 300 Swift Parrots left in the wild, according to research published last week by the Australian National University. During the action, attendees held up 300 cards to show how small the parrot’s population now is.

“There are just 3 species of migratory parrot in the world and all 3 of them occur in Tasmania,” Birdlife Tasmania’s Eric Woehler told attendees.

Woehler said that Swift Parrots have “literally flown under the radar” until recently and as their nesting habitat is currently being logged in Tasmanian forests, more needs to be done.

Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) – also known as Forestry Tasmania – has twice sought certification unsuccessfully with the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), a global not-for-profit organisation aiming to promote responsible management of forests worldwide. The FSC’s most recent audit report states that “without the assurance of accurate mapping and identification of old growth within the estate, it was determined by the audit team that STT has not provided sufficient evidence to support contentions that harvesting of old growth … is not a threat at the landscape level… STT has improperly harvested old growth under FSC rules.”

Yesterday saw the latest round of Government Business Enterprise hearings in the Tasmanian parliament, where government business entities such as STT can be questioned about their annual reports. During the session, STT denied that they were logging Swift Parrot nesting habitat, despite the existence of photographs taken this week by campaigners indicating that hollow-bearing trees appropriate for parrot breeding had been cut down.

New amendments to federal environmental legislation were also tabled by Senator Bridget McKenzie yesterday, and have been labelled the “forest rorts bill” by the Bob Brown Foundation.

Bob Brown said yesterday that the bill “exempts loggers from the EPBC Act, full stop.”

“It exempts them from protecting rare and endangered species, it exempts them from Word Heritage protections… on the ruse that it’ll be left to the state… to care for the endangered species on this beautiful island of ours.”

Bob Brown Foundation campaign manager Jenny Weber has indicated that they are planning further actions in an attempt to prevent parrot nesting habitat being logged in Tasmania.

Sarah Jacob

Sarah Jacob is a journalist and editor and is currently The Advocate's Deputy Editor. She has written for a range of print and online publications across Australia and internationally with a focus on the environment and human rights. Previously she worked in conservation science and protected area management, and has completed postgraduate degrees in journalism and marine science.

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