Persistent logging greatest threat to swift parrot, scientists find

Breeding season for the critically endangered swift parrot is being impacted by a lack of available trees.
By AG Staff July 26, 2018 Reading Time: < 1

A NEW STUDY has revealed that key habitats for the critically endangered swift parrot have continued to be logged, despite legislation aimed at preventing this.

According to the paper a third of old growth forest was logged in Tasmania between 1997 and 2016, leaving the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) vulnerable to extinction. “Sadly, even with legislation designed to protect the at-risk species and conservation plans in place, the plight of the swift parrot has worsened,” said lead author Matthew Webb, from ANU’s Difficult Bird Research Group.

“There’s a lack of political will on the part of the Tasmanian government to adhere to conservation plans and we’ve seen logging operations that directly contravene Forestry Tasmania’s claims to maintain the integrity of the parrots’ breeding habitats,” he added.

The combination of habitat loss, predation by sugar gliders – which earlier this year were found to be an invasive species in Tasmania – and bushfires continues to stress the species.

The team estimates there are between 1000 and 2000 individuals left in the wild, but the researchers suspect these numbers have declined since the last survey because of limited breeding habitats. “The birds need flowering Tasmanian black and blue gums for food as well as trees over 150 years old to provide suitable hollows for nesting,” Matthew said.

“Due to policy and management failures logging of breeding habitat continues to be approved despite expert advice and scientific evidence that demonstrates the cessation of logging of breeding habitat is urgently required.”

The paper Policy failure and conservation paralysis for the crucially endangered swift parrot is published in Pacific Conservation Biology.