Threats to Australian WIldlife

 

Bustards

Pair of Australian bustards: photo by Barry Davies, Gondwana Guides

Current threats to Australian Wildlife

This page is to voice concerns, suggest solutions and generally discuss some of the current threats to our wildlife

Please feel free to contribute anything you think is relevant

 

Climate change

There are a number of uncertainties about the details, and a lot of hype and mis-understanding, but the evidence for climate change at a more rapid rate than ever before seems over-whelming and alarming, and whatever its causes this will have major effects on wildlife, and on tourism. Whatever effects changes in the sun’s activity may also produce, the evidence for human-induced climate change is also very strong, and the actions needed to reduce it also have other environmental benefits.

For evidence of climate change see:

Effect of climate change on wildlife:

The mining boom

Australia needs mining, both for the minerals and for the economy in general, but there are many who consider we do not need to mine all our resources as rapidly as we appear to be doing, and the unprecedented increase in mining activities across the country is causing concern for environmental matters, including wildlife conservation, in many areas.

Rehabilitation of vegetation does not ensure a return  to original habitat, as evidenced by research in Far North Queensland: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/03/26/211971_local-news.html

Coal Seam Gas, fracking and open cut coal mines

Four potential threats to wildlife are posed by the coal seam gas industry:

  1. Direct habitat clearing and fragmentation
  2. Where these pipelines are being constructed in other regions, thousands of animals have fallen into the trenches.
  3. Fracking (the proposed extraction of coal seam gas) uses enormous quantities of water. .
  4. Pollution of our underground water and water catchments is a grave concern for wildlife, livestock and the human population.

One of the worrying aspects is the rush with which CSG exploration has been spreading throughout Australia without a similar rush into research on its potential environmental impacts.

See for instance http://catefaehrmann.org/2011/05/save-pilliga-our-largest-temperate-woodland/

There are  also threatened ecosystems and habitats of threatened animals being cleared for open cut coal mining in various areas.

See more details here on the problems of fracking and coal mining and Australia’s wildlife, and join our discussion on this topic.

 

Marine mining and dredging of coral reefs

See:

Over-fishing

It is good that some areas have now been declared as marine parks or soon will be, but is this enough?

Vegetation clearing

This is still one of the biggest, if not the biggest, threats to wildlife throughout the world, including Australia

4 Responses to “Threats to Australian WIldlife”

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  1. Ronda Green says:

    Mining, oil-drilling, fracking and quarrying seem to be potential threats to wildlife habitat in many parts of Australia right now (as in other countries).

  2. Ronda Green says:

    Yes, while so many are still debating whether climate change is happening we are losing a lot of opportunity to plan for future changes, such as provide additional habitat areas and connectivity between them.

    There are just so many invertebrates they are so often dismissed as too hard to even contemplate, but as you say, many are essential, and since we are discovering new, un-named ones all the time, we know almost nothing about their ecological roles, and these roles are many and varied, from breaking down decomposing material to controlling other invertebrate numbers, to pollination and (mainly ants) seed dispersal.

    There are many chains of dependency. The highly-endangered Australian fritillary butterfly depends on arrowhead violets in its caterpillar stage, the range of which has severely shrunk, and these are pollinated by various other butterflies such as the common grass yellow (which fortunately is still common). The Richmond birdwing butterfly, a threatened species, depends on a vine which in turn depends on a small gnat for pollination, and the gnat in turn depends on clear mountain streams for its larval stage. There are various rainforest plants pollinated only by certain species of beetle or wasp … many examples we already know about and doubtless many more awaiting discovery.

  3. Pat O'Brien says:

    Climate change is going to have a huge impact on wildlife. While community groups have been lobbying for government action on climate change for 30 years, its only in the last few years that governments have started talking about it, and they are even more reluctant to actually take any firm action to mitigate it. Scientists are now saying that “10 years ago when we predicted tidal increases of half a meter, we really meant two meters, but we were too frightened to say that at the time”. What all the scientists agree on is that Australia, and our wildlife, will be impacted more that any other country in the world. There is no doubt Climate Change will have a devastating impact on many of our native species.

    There are around 1400 endangered plant and animal species in Australia, and the sad reality is that we will lose many of them to Climate Change, thru shrinking and changing habitat, and lack of escape corridors. So now, while governments are talking about endangered species, there is very little they have actually done to protect these species, such as extending their habitat. In some National Parks where endangered species live, they are still dropping 1080, which of course has a devastating impact on the quolls and other animals that live there.

    Shark nets, balloons, lack of corridors, road kills, Permits to kill wildlife, freeway and housing expansion thru sensitive habitat, are all contributing to the loss of many endangered species. But what about the species that are sometimes considered as “common” but are really not? Ringtail possums, red kangaroos, dingo the native dog, many reptiles, etc etc etc.

    And what about invertebrates, the creatures without backbones? Nobody cares about them, and how Climate Change will affect them. Spiders, worms, native bees, etc. If we lose the wasp that polinates the donkey orchids, we lose the orchid. If we lose the termites and ants, we lose the echidna. If we lose the bats that polinate the rainforests, we lose rainforest plant species, that may provide habitat or food for other animal species. The sad reality is that Governments dont care about the wildlife that many tourism ventures depend on, and they are not listening to any calls to protect it.

  4. Ronda Green says:

    The Kimberley region of northwestern Australia has always been a wonderful, wild region with a great diversity of species both on land and in the sea

    Mining is now posing threats to both marine and terrestrial habitats

    See for instance the plea to help save the whales of Kimberley: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/47/please-save-the-kimberley-and-the-whales/

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