13 Apr 2018


WWF-Australia says the WA state government must do more to stop the clearing of pines, in the Perth-Peel region, and protect Banksia woodland, which provides a vital food source for Carnaby’s cockatoos.

WWF’s Species Conservation Manager, Merril Halley, says the WA’s government’s recent announcement to marginally slow the pace of pine harvesting in the Gnangara, Pinjar & Yanchep plantations will not save the Carnaby’s cockatoo - as much habitat has already been cleared and there are no plans beyond June 2019, to prevent ongoing clearing.

“The Government needs to commit to greater action if we are to save this endangered species from extinction,” she says.

WWF-Australia says that it is good to see Environment Minister Dawson’s acknowledgment of the serious impact clearing the pines is having on the survival of Carnaby’s cockatoo, but that acknowledgment needs to be backed up by long term meaningful action.

The conservation organisation has been deeply concerned about this issue for years and raised concerns many times, as the government’s own analysis shows that the clearing of all the pines will wipe out nearly 50% of the Carnaby’s population in the Perth and Peel region.

The loss of food for Carnaby’s cockatoo in the Perth and Peel region has been getting gradually worse with the harvesting of more than 15,000 ha of these plantations already.

“The pines have become a critical food source for the birds as much of their native Banksia woodland habitat has already been cleared. There has been no formal assessment made since the decision was made to not replant the pines, nor any attempt to offset the loss of this food source by further food planting,” Ms Halley says.

“Further clearing of these plantations in the Perth and Peel region must cease until the government has a plan of action to protect cockatoos and all remaining Banksia woodland. This plan must also include re-vegetation of Banksia woodland and other food plants and delaying the harvest of more pines until food plants reach maturity. For example, there is a tremendous opportunity to replant large areas already cleared in the Gnangara, Pinjar & Yanchep pine plantations,” Ms Halley says.

WWF-Australia strongly supported the Strategic Assessment approach for long-term protection of habitat in the Perth and Peel region - which the Government has now suspended. As Perth’s city boundaries continue to grow, it urges the WA government to continue to strategically plan for the protection of threatened species such as the Carnaby’s cockatoo and its habitat.

Background information:

The Gnangara, Pinjar and Yanchep pine plantation issue in the north of Perth, is an unusual one from a conservation perspective, in that to save native birds, non-native trees must be preserved, at least in the short term. When much of their natural habitat was cleared, Carnaby’s cockatoos began feeding on non-native pine plantations in the 1940s. The birds tear open the pine cones to eat the seeds inside, and also roost among the pines.

For decades, these plantations have provided nearly 60% of the total food resource available to Carnaby’s Cockatoos in the Perth and Peel region. Since 2004, replanting of pines has all but ceased (except for 2,000 hectares), and of the original 23,000 hectares of plantations only about 8,000 hectares remain.