Cockatoos in Crisis

Cockatoos in the south-west and on the Swan Coastal Plain are starving to death and rescue centres are overwhelmed by the numbers of starving birds coming into their care. Experts are warning that local extinctions are almost certain unless remaining habitat is urgently protected. Western Australian conservationists and cockatoo experts have warned that cockatoo extinctions will occur this year unless the Barnett Government steps in to protect these iconic birds.  


WA Forest Alliance spokesperson Jess Beckerling said, “An emergency situation has developed for the three species of endangered West Australian black cockatoos, the Baudin’s, Carnaby’s and Forest Red-tailed.

“We are making urgent appeals to the State Government to alter logging plans for this year to protect the cockatoos because if it doesn’t we are almost certain to see local extinctions,” said Ms Beckerling.

DEC prescribed burn escapes have had disastrous impacts on the birds in recent months. In the past fifteen months nearly 100 000 ha of forest and bushland, in the Nannup area alone, have been blackened by DEC prescribed burns and escapes - the equivalent of approximately 245 King’s Parks - with catastrophic consequences for native fauna, which were either killed or displaced and starved when their habitat was destroyed.

Now, the Barnett Government’s logging agency, the Forest Products Commission has released its plans to log thousands of hectares of native forests in 2012. One of the areas that conservationists are most concerned about is Helms forest, near Nannup.

Helms forest was not burnt and is now one of the last remaining areas of good quality habitat for vulnerable native fauna in the whole Nannup district. The Forest Products Commission is planning to intensively log 490 ha of the best habitat in Helms this summer.

Busselton Dunsborough Environment Centre convenor Alison Cassanet said, “Helms forest has become vital to the survival of the cockatoos. It is the birds’ only refuge in the whole area so it is critical that it is not logged. We have appealed to the Minister for Environment to not allow any logging or burning in Helms, at least until the surrounding forest and bushland have recovered from the recent devastating fires.

“We will never give up on Helms – it’s the last hope the cockatoos have in this entire district,” concluded Ms Cassanet.

David Patterson runs a cockatoo rehabilitation centre on the boundary of Helms forest. He and his wife have been caring for cockatoos in the area for more than 20 years and dozens of birds they have rehabilitated have, with the involvement of DEC scientists, been released into Helms where they now live and breed.

“Without Helms the cockatoos will die,” said Mr Patterson, “They have nowhere else to go now that everywhere around us has been logged or burnt.

“We have raised some of these birds up from chicks and released them into Helms. They come back to us for extra seed, particularly since the DEC prescribed burns and escapes that have taken out so much of their food source.

“We are absolutely devastated that the Barnett Government is planning to log this last refuge. We will fight this plan with everything we have,” concluded Mr Patterson.