Liz Gould presented an insightful paper on Conservation challenges and opportunities at the recent Queensland Ornithological Conference. The event was co-hosted by BirdLife Southern Queensland and Birds Queensland. Healthy Land & Water sponsored the event, recognising the value in bringing together local and national experts and enthusiasts on Australian avifauna together to share and discuss the latest bird conservation research.
The talk: Conservation challenges and opportunities for Queensland’s capital
South East Queensland is an area of incredibly diverse natural values under intense pressure, particularly from population growth, land use change and climate change. It is a recognised biodiversity hotspot, home to seven Key Biodiversity Areas, and with over 600 eBird hotspots and 3100 eBirders.
The region contains natural areas of international importance (including the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area, Moreton Bay Ramsar site, Noosa Biosphere, many endemic plant and animal species, diverse ecosystems and iconic landscapes.
In 2007, the Commonwealth Government recognised the Border Ranges of South East Queensland and north east New South Wales, as a national biodiversity hotspot (DEWR 2007) and in 2011, CSIRO researchers in partnership with Conservation International included South East Queensland within the world’s 35th biodiversity hotspot, the Forests of East Australia (CEPF, 2011).
A review of progress against regionally agreed nature conservation targets (SEQ NRM Plan 2009) undertaken by Healthy Land & Water in 2021-22 found losses of 7,000 hectares of remnant vegetation (including 830 hectares on average per year of riparian vegetation), clearing of 5,000 hectares per year of non-remnant woody vegetation, loss of 500 hectares of wetlands and 4,000 hectares of seagrass (despite recent evidence of some recovery), further fragmentation of large, core tracts. Additionally, preliminary analysis of changes in the Queensland conservation status of native species suggests decline in status for 30% of species since 2008 and listing of over 100 additional species. Iconic bird species, such as Far Eastern Curlew, Red Goshawk, Eastern Bristlebird and Glossy Black-cockatoo are part of a suite of bird species whose status has not improved, rather population decline has been ongoing.
The enormous inherent contribution of biodiversity to the well-being of South East Queensland’s residents and visitors, was highlighted during COVID outbreaks in 2020, with dramatic increases in visitation to natural areas on land and water.
Despite this community appreciation of the importance of natural areas, and an increasingly aware and well-resourced community, biodiversity continues to decline within the region, as does investment in the green, blue and brown infrastructure on which we depend. South East Queensland is well-placed to lead the way in environmental and community recovery through innovative action that is beyond ‘business-as-usual’, but this action is urgently needed.