Friday, January 30, 2015

Ken Newbey's report

Ken Newbey, a farmer who became a plant ecologist, had made a study of the soils, geomorphology and vegetation of the vacant Crown Land north of the then Fitzgerald River National Park in 1976, while he was a mature age student at Murdoch University. The goal of the study was to evaluate two conflicting land uses: agriculture and conservation.

In  1982, with some updating, he sent a version of the report to the Working Group on Land Releases, as well as to relevant politicians and Government Departments. It was the only detailed report on this area available at the time.

The diagrams below, taken from the report, show the area in question which sits between Old Ongerup Road and the existing Fitzgerald River National Park. Conservation values were estimated by Ken based on his initial surveys. It can be seen that he thought at this stage that both conservation and agriculture could be realistically accommodated in this area. However he also emphasized the need for further surveys before a land use final decision.

Later as more detailed information was determined about the Swamp Parrot (Western Ground Parrot) - its scarcity, presence in some of the land he had considered suitable for farming, and its requirements, as well as the high risk of erosion of some of the soils if the vegetation were to be cleared, Ken changed his view.

Below are two fragments of the text of the report which was entitled 'North Fitzgerald Land Use survey'.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Land release concern revisited

The next few postings will go back in time to 1982 and 1983 when land north of the then Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) was under consideration for release for agriculture. Previous postings dealing with this period were 17 January 2014, 25 January 2014, 1 February 2014 and 7 February 2014.

R.A.O.U. (WA) was the Western Australian branch of the organization now known as Birdlife Australia.

Below is the draft of part of the first letter from B. Newbey, a member of the R.A.O.U., advising the organisation of the proposal re the land north of the FRNP. Ken Newbey also wrote with further details about the natural values of the North Fitzgerald, an area he had studied with particular regard to vegetation and geomorphology. (These letters pre-date the personal computer.) 

Draft of part of second letter to RAOU (WA) expressing further concern.


RAOU (WA) suggested to the Director of the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) (now the Department of Parks and Wildlife) that the land should be surveyed for gazetted rare birds - especially the Ground Parrot and the Brown (Western) Bristlebird, 'so that a reasonable assessment can be made of the value of the land for agriculture as against its value for fauna conservation purposes'.

RAOU offered to organise, under contract to CALM, the requisite survey. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A recovery plan for the ground parrot in Western Australia

Following an unpublished research plan (Cale,P., and Burbidge, A.H. (1993): Research Plan for the Western Ground Parrot, Western Whipbird and Western Bristlebird. Unpublished report to ANPWS Endangered Species Unit, Canberra.), an Interim Recovery Plan was produced by the Western Australian Department responsible for acting to conserve the State's fauna.

Burbidge, A.H., Blyth, J., Danks, A., Gillen, K., and Newbey, B.(1997) Western Ground Parrot Interim Recovery Plan 1996-1999 (Department of Conservation and Land Management, Interim Recovery Plan No. 6. Perth.)

Below is an extract from Recovery Plan No. 6. It shows the lack of good information on parrot numbers due to changes such as fire and new records. Although Cape Arid National Park is listed as a ground parrot location, no birds had been recorded there since 1989.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia 1992

 Shapelle McNee surveying plants in ground parrot habitat in the Fitzgerald River National Park after the December 1989 fire. Photo: Allan Burbidge,1990.

The paper below summarizes information to date (1992) on Western Australia's ground parrots. The paper is in 'Issues in the Conservation of Parrots in Australasia and Oceania: Challenges to Conservation Biology' (Ed. L.Joseph). (RAOU Report No. 83: 46-9.)

Note: Although in 1992, most of the known population of WA's ground parrots was in the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP), by the time this posting was prepared (January 2014), it is uncertain that any ground parrots remain in the FRNP. The total number of wild adult birds is currently given as 140, all in Cape Arid National Park. Fire management is essential for the survival of the species and a major challenge as their habitat is both fire-prone and remote.