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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

22 March 2000

ANSWERS SOUGHT ON CLEARING OF RARE BIRD HABITAT


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has called on the Victorian government to explain the destruction of one of the state's most important nesting sites for the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo.

Senator Hill said 80 trees on private land near Horsham in western Victoria were illegally felled, despite being clearly identified as important nesting sites.

"The total population of the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo has been estimated at fewer than 1,000," he said.

"This species is currently listed as endangered under both the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 and the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee legislation. It is restricted to forests and scrubs in south-western Victoria and adjacent south-eastern South Australia.

"Over the past few years, the Federal Government has contributed significant amounts of money through the Natural Heritage Trust in the recovery project for the SE Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. This includes protection of existing nesting sites, which is vital to the success of the project. An important component of this project has been the dedicated involvement of many volunteers and landholders."

Senator Hill said the best known nesting site for this cockatoo, containing six of the eighteen remaining active nests, was found on a 287 hectare private property block in the West Wimmera Shire.

Senator Hill said he understands that in January a planning permit was issued under Victorian legislation to remove trees on the site. A condition of the permit was to protect the identified nest trees. An inspection of the site two weeks ago by a specialist biologist revealed that all the important nest trees had been cleared.

"It is simply not good enough that the trees specifically identified for protection under the conditions of the clearing permit have been destroyed."

Senator Hill has called for an explanation from the Victorian government, urging the Environment Minister to take action against those responsible.

22 March 2000

Contacts:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Anne-Marie Delahunt (Environment Australia) (02) 6274 2240

Commonwealth of Australia