Jun 072014

Original story by Damien Larkins and Russell Varley, ABC Gold Coast

Racehorse trainers and conservationists are angry at plans to fill in a wetland area near the Gold Coast Turf Club.
The wetland is home to a nesting black swan and dozens of other bird species. Photo: Damien Larkins

The wetland is home to a nesting black swan and dozens of other bird species. Photo: Damien Larkins

Trainers received an email on Thursday afternoon that work was going to start the next morning, as preparations continue for the Gold Coast Show to move to the Turf Club.

The email says the 2.75 hectare swamp area will be used for parking at the show and large race days but otherwise will be free for trainers to walk their horses the rest of the time. Continue reading »

Jun 062014

Original story at ABC News

You would be happy with a double eagle on the golf course, but a pair of crocs is enough to make any player choke.
Two crocodiles have been moved to a golf course near Cairns. Photo: Sukree Sukplang/Reuters

Two crocodiles have been moved to a golf course near Cairns. Photo: Sukree Sukplang/Reuters

Two crocodiles, both about a metre long, have taken up residence at a Yorkeys Knob golf club near the far north Queensland city of Cairns.

But Half Moon Bay Golf Course manager Greg Ferry reckons they are more of a novelty than a threat.

“A few of the golfers are mentioning there’s a few other hazards around,” he said.

“They aren’t really much of a danger at the moment, they’re a bit of a joke and people are interested in having a look at them.”

The pair, who live in separate lakes on the club’s grounds, come within about 15 metres of a couple of the holes on the course.

Warning signs are dotted around the place and rangers are monitoring the reptiles to ensure they do not pose a danger to golfers. Continue reading »

Jun 052014
The platypus is vulnerable to opera house traps set to catch crayfish.

The platypus is vulnerable to opera house traps set to catch crayfish.

Original story at Wildlife Extra

The Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC) has been carrying out trials on a new design of a type of crayfish trap called an opera house trap. Opera house traps are widely sold in Australia to deploy in rivers to catch crayfish for eating. Unfortunately, these same rivers are populated by air-breathing platypus that cannot escape from the traps once they have entered them and so drown. The new design is fitted with a circular escape hatch in the roof, through which platypus can find their way back out. The research, funded by the Taronga Conservation Society, involved 34 adults and 24 juvenile platypus to establish how easily the animals found the escape holes.

Of the four animals tested during daylight hours, all escaped within one minute of being introduced to a trap. At night, 63 per cent of tested animals managed to find their own way out within one minute and 19 per cent in 1-2 minutes. All exited via the escape hatch in the roof. Given that a platypus can hold its breath for approximately two and a half minutes when active, these findings suggest that a large proportion of wild platypus are likely to escape from a modified trap before they drown. Continue reading »

May 192014

Original story by Stephen Garnett, Charles Darwin University and Kerstin Zander, Charles Darwin University at The Conversation

Big Ritchie looks up from his pile of bananas, unperturbed by the flock of tourists taking his photo. Sprawled around him, mother orangutans* and their fluffy orange babies groom affectionately, chase each other, hang upside down, or wander off and vanish into the nearby forest canopy.
new research shows seeing orangutans like Big Ritchie in conservation areas can raise vital support to protect his cousins in the wild. Photo: CC BY-SA

new research shows seeing orangutans like Big Ritchie in conservation areas can raise vital support to protect his cousins in the wild. Photo: CC BY-SA

Fewer than 2,000 orangutans are left living in the wild in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, with nearly all truly wild ones confined to a remote site on the Indonesian border. It’s why thousands of tourists and local Sarawak people come to places like this – the popular Semenggoh Nature Reserve – to see orangutans semi-wild in a reserve or captive in a rehabilitation centre. Continue reading »

May 032014

The ConversationOriginal story by Tom Rayner, Charles Darwin University and Richard Kingsford at The Conversation

Wetlands and rivers need water – not least in the case of Australia’s biggest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, which has been the target of an “environmental watering” plan designed to preserve its water levels and quality.
Water management in the Murray-Darling may be inadvertently helping the common carp at the expense of native fish. Photo: Tom Rayner

Water management in the Murray-Darling may be inadvertently helping the common carp at the expense of native fish. Photo: Tom Rayner

But our research shows that, during the 2010-11 floods, measures taken to manage water levels and preserve local wildlife ended up helping alien species, such as the troublesome common carp.

A helping hand for fish

Environmental watering programs are used worldwide to replenish previously degraded catchments. One of the ways to test how well they are working is to look at what happens to native fish. Our evidence suggests that efforts in the Murray-Darling, although on the right track, might need some refinement to ensure we help the right species.

The 2010-11 episode also highlights the difficulty of performing what amounts to “environmental triage” on degraded river systems such as the Murray-Darling, while still ensuring that everything stays in balance. Continue reading »

May 022014

Wildlife Preservation Society of QueenslandOriginal story by Peter Ogilvie, Wildlife Queensland

The assault on nature conservation in Queensland

Why has the Newman Government chosen to comprehensively neutralise nature conservation and its associated legislation in Queensland, particularly in relation to national parks?

There doesn’t appear to be any political imperative, as is the case in NSW where a party with the balance of power in the Upper House is demanding hunting access to national parks. The Liberal National Party (LNP) government in Queensland has had complete and unassailable control of the uni-cameral parliament since it reduced the Labor opposition to seven members following the March 2012 election. Neither can it be explained purely as a matter of ideology. Coalition governments in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia have been responsible for some significant advances in nature conservation. After all, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) was enacted by a Coalition government in Canberra, as was the latest strongly protective zoning plan for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. There has been the suggestion that the government is undoing what was created by former Goss, Beattie and Bligh Labor governments. However, several matters that have been neutralised are actually products of earlier Coalition governments. Which leaves one other possible explanation, perverse though it may be, that they are doing it simply because they can.

Kondalilla falls, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Photo: Damien Dempsey/Wikimedia Commons

Kondalilla falls, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Photo: Damien Dempsey/Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, what they have done needs to be clearly documented so this government can be held to account, perhaps sadly not in its lifetime, but by future generations that will want to know where the blame lies.

The Banishment of National Parks

Continue reading »

Apr 272014

By Greg Wallis (pseudechis) at YouTube

The Northern Snake-necked or Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina [Macrochelodina] oblonga [until recently referred to as rugosa]) is a common turtle of the lowland freshwater areas of northern Australia.

This video was filmed in a rainforest spring in the catchment of the Finniss River in the Northern Territory, Australia.

The Northern Snake-necked Turtle is a much sort after food source by the local Aboriginal people.

The back legs and tail of a small Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) is visible along the left hand edge of the screen just above the centre about half way through the video.


Apr 152014

published by the Department of Environment

Wetlands Australia: National Wetlands Update February 2014

Wetlands Australia: National Wetlands Update February 2014



The international theme of World Wetlands Day 2014 is “Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth”. For millennia, wetlands have been used directly for agriculture, and for supplying food, fuel and fibre to support lives and livelihoods. Wetlands continue to play an essential role in supporting modern day agriculture. They provide water storage, flood buffering, nutrient removal, water purification and erosion control. Sustainable practices which support both agriculture and healthy wetlands are therefore coming to the fore.

This edition of Wetlands Australia includes several feature articles on wetlands and agriculture, along with many other articles on current wetland projects and programs.

Australia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (more commonly known as the Ramsar Convention), and in 1974 designated the world’s first Ramsar site: Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory.  In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first Ramsar designation, this edition of Wetlands Australia also features 23 articles celebrating Australian Ramsar sites.

If you would like to contribute to future editions of Wetlands Australia, please contactwetlandsmail@environment.gov.au

Download individual chapters

Introduction and contents (PDF – 698.64 KB)

Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth (PDF – 888.7 KB)

  • Wimmera wetland project benefits whole farm
  • Murray Wetland Carbon Storage project
  • Territory Conservation Agreements – helping pastoralists look after wetlands
  • Agricultural water supports wetlands and tourism
  • I’d like to order some bitterns and rice, please
  • Burdekin cane farmer builds a wetland for the future

Ramsar wetland management in Australia (PDF – 749.5 KB)

  • Ramsar in New South Wales – a tale of 12 sites
  • Queensland wetlands celebrate 20 years of Ramsar listing
  • Banrock Station wetland and vineyard – a perfect blend
  • Record breaking flight signals the importance of conserving wetlands
  • Environmental flows bring waterbirds to Tuckerbil Swamp Ramsar site
  • Managing weed and sea level rise threats to Kakadu’s tropical river floodplains

Wetland conservation and restoration (PDF – 807.27 KB)

  • An update on wetland restoration on private land in South Australia and Victoria
  • Protecting and enhancing the wonderful Moolort Wetlands of Victoria
  • Using historical mine pits in Western Australia to create a wetlands complex for the benefit of water bird conservation and the local community
  • Doing it together – a good news story about the fairies and the ferry
  • From little things, big things grow
  • Successful rehabilitation of a Waterbird Refuge
  • Kids tell companies to mind their business
  • Students and surf club – the clean-up team!

Water management and wetlands (PDF – 828.02 KB)

  • Environmental watering in the Lower Lachlan River catchment, New South Wales
  • To wade or not to wade – hydrological management effects on species composition
  • Partnering to restore the Mallowa Creek floodplain wetlands

Wetland management and research (PDF – 706.58 KB)

  • Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program
  • The Finke River- salty & lovin’ it
  • Novel ecosystem, novel approaches
  • Sixth Lake Eyre Basin Conference – cross-border collaboration

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention in Australia – a showcase of Australian Ramsar sites (PDF – 2.94 MB)

  • Cobourg Peninsula Ramsar Site, Northern Territory
  • Kakadu National Park Ramsar Site, Northern Territory
  • Barmah Forest Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Flood Plain Lower Ringarooma River Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Logan Lagoon Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Moulting Lagoon Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Towra Point Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • The Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Macquarie Marshes Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Coongie Lakes Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Lake Toolibin Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Blue Lake Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Ginini Flats Wetland Complex Ramsar Site, Australian Capital Territory
  • Great Sandy Strait Ramsar Site, Queensland
  • Banrock Station Wetland Complex Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Ramsar Site, Coral Sea Islands Territory
  • The Dales Ramsar Site, Christmas Island
  • Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands Ramsar Site, South Australia

Calendar of events (PDF – 482.54 KB)

Previous editions of Wetlands Australia are also available:

Apr 112014

Original story by Jake Sturmer, ABC News

A new study of Australia’s dirtiest and cleanest beaches has revealed some surprising results.

A red-footed Booby on a polluted beach in Australia. Photo: Dr Denise Hardesty, CSIRO

A red-footed Booby on a polluted beach in Australia. Photo: Dr Denise Hardesty, CSIRO

CSIRO researchers have spent two years surveying Australia’s entire coastline, counting rubbish on sections of sand and sea every 100 kilometres.

Australia’s dirtiest and cleanest beaches


  • Dirtiest: Shelly Beach, Manly
  • Cleanest: Red Rock Beach, NSW North Coast

Northern Territory

  • Dirtiest: Cape Arnhem
  • Cleanest: Cape Hay


  • Dirtiest: Barney Point Beach, Gladstone
  • Cleanest: Mackay

South Australia

  • Dirtiest: Border Village (SA)
  • Cleanest: Nora Creina


  • Dirtiest: East Kangaroo Island (West Gulch)
  • Cleanest: Cape Grim


  • Dirtiest: Pearse’s Road Beach
  • Cleanest: Gibbs Track Beach, Lakes Entrance

Western Australia

  • Dirtiest: Ellensbrook Beach
  • Cleanest: 80 Mile Beach

Source: CSIRO

The survey of more than 175 beaches found the dirtiest beach in Australia was Border Village on the coast between Western Australia and South Australia.

This was typical of the study that found remote and hard to reach beaches were among Australia’s most grotty.

Lead researcher Dr Denise Hardesty says the rubbish did not float in from polluted oceans abroad.

By using ocean current data and examining the items, researchers could tell much of the mess fell from the hands of ordinary Australians.

“In general most of what we find is from us,” Dr Hardesty said.

“No matter how remote you are, how close you are to an urban city, we leave our litter everywhere.”

Illegal dumping, irresponsible mariners and careless beachgoers are all to blame, she says.

Researchers are suggesting increased regulation and enforcement, particularly of illegal dumping.

“We aren’t doing as well as we could, as we need to be doing, in terms of waste management,” Dr Hardesty said.

More than 150 million pieces of rubbish

The CSIRO study estimates more than 150 million pieces of rubbish litter Australia’s sand and shores.

The most common item was plastic following rapid growth in global plastic production.

“More than three-quarters of what we find in terms of rubbish is plastic,” Dr Hardesty said.

This had a disastrous effect on some 600 marine species who then consumed what researchers have termed “plastic food”.

Dr Hardesty said she had found cigarette lighters, toothbrushes, pill bottles and bottle caps in the stomachs of birds.

“We open turtles that have died and see that they’re jammed full of plastics,” she said.

“I’ve found over 200 pieces of plastic in a single bird.”

Communities cleaning up Australia

Retired plastic surgeon John Hanrahan and other former professionals have formed a group to clean up the waters off Western Australia’s sunny Abrolhos Islands.

They visit once a year to clean up the mess left by tourists and fishermen over the decades.

“To me they are unique islands in this part of the world, they’re coral islands, they’re well south of the usual position and it seems to be sacrilege to let them deteriorate,” Mr Hanrahan said.

“I think we all have a responsibility to look after these islands and part of looking after them, in my view, is cleaning up the refuse.

“What I’d like to see is other people take up the cause as it were and say ‘yes all right, we can do a little bit’.”

Migratory shore birds on 80 Mile Beach in Western Australia. Photo:  Matt Brann, ABC

Migratory shore birds on 80 Mile Beach in Western Australia. Photo: Matt Brann, ABC