Revelations Idemitsu detected 21 critically endangered Swift Parrots near its Boggabri open cut coal mine in the Leard State Forest near Narrabri - the second year in a row the parrots have been detected by the mining company - has prompted calls for action from Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.
This year's detection of the parrots was noted in the August Boggabri Coal Community Consultation Committee minutes, while the previous year’s was included in the mine’s Annual Review submitted to the NSW Department of Planning.
Boggabri Coal’s latest EPBC Act compliance report shows the federal department charged with monitoring compliance may be unaware the critically endangered parrots have been detected twice in two years, as it has not “requested species and ecological survey data to date”. (See page 13)
Advocates are now calling on the Albanese Government to ensure that all habitat for critically endangered species is protected from clearing as part of its EPBC Act reforms and for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to amend the conditions of the Boggabri coal mine to prevent further clearing of Swift Parrot habitat.
They say the discovery is new information which shows that Leard State Forest is an important foraging area for Swift Parrots, and that the discovery highlights the need for the remaining forest to be protected from further clearing for coal mining.
Idemitsu has approval to continue clearing Leard State Forest (See mapping pages 24, 25) and while its approval requires it to survey every year for Swift Parrots, it requires no action to be taken if the rare birds are found.
BirdLife Australia spokesperson Mick Roderick said, “Swift Parrots are on a fast track to extinction within the next 10 years if we continue with business as usual. Protecting the places where they are known to feed and congregate, such as the area in and around Leard State Forest, is not only important for individual birds, it is critical to the survival of the whole species.
“This is just another example of death by a thousand cuts because Australia’s national nature laws are weak, outdated and are failing to protect threatened birds and the places they live.
“These same national nature laws are being rewritten for the first time in 20 years but will need broad political support to deliver the reforms that nature needs. BirdLife is asking bird lovers to contact their Federal Members of Parliament and urge them to support new laws that will genuinely protect and restore special places like the Leard State Forest forever.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Head of Research and Investigations Georgina Woods said, “This extraordinary situation has exposed the urgent need to overhaul Australia’s environment laws. Idemitsu has cleared vast swathes of an irreplaceable forest. It’s required to search for Swift Parrots, but is under no obligation to stop clearing their habitat if it finds them.
“The discovery of critically endangered birds should bring clearing activity at the mine to an immediate halt.
“Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek needs to alter the conditions of the Boggabri coal mine to prevent further clearing of Swift parrot habitat. She needs to ensure that when Australia’s environment laws are overhauled, there is a clear prohibition on clearing any habitat for critically endangered species.
“The Albanese Government’s EPBC Act reforms must ensure we identify and protect all remaining habitat for critically endangered species like the Swift Parrot.
“The significance of Leard State Forest to the Swift Parrot should also put a stop to proposed coal mine expansion plans by not only Idemitsu, but also Whitehaven, in the forest.”
Idemitsu subsidiary Boggabri Coal is awaiting an outcome from the NSW Planning Department for its planned modification 8, which would require more habitat clearing.
Whitehaven Coal plans to expand its Maules Creek coal mine, also located in the Leard State Forest.