Threatened bird finds unlikely ally

RARE BIRD: Habitat is needed for the endangered striated fieldwren. Photo from Birdlife Melbourne
RARE BIRD: Habitat is needed for the endangered striated fieldwren. Photo from Birdlife Melbourne

A SHY little bird battling for its own space in NSW’s diminishing native grasslands has found an ally in the Potato Point Community Association.

As part of the association’s ongoing effort to get better bushfire protection for this small coastal community, it is asking the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to plant a tussock grass reserve for the endangered striated fieldwren.

The idea for the reserve comes out of the findings of environmental studies commissioned by NPWS as part of its consultation process for the proposed firebreak works at Potato Point.   

The studies showed that out of the 11 threatened fauna found in the area around Potato Point, only the fieldwren is endangered.

It is also the only one of the 11 likely be affected by the firebreak. 

NSW’s Office of Environment and Heritage has listed the bird as endangered because of the loss of its swampy heath and tussock habitats across the state. 

The association is suggesting that the NPWS should develop a special protected area for the endangered fieldwren.

It proposes that an area west and south of the village once cleared for the firebreak should be replanted with the sort of tussock grass that the fieldwren thrives on.

The association’s proposal is included in a submission to the NPWS that had invited comments on its draft firebreak plans as part of the public consultation process.

In putting the submission together, the association’s committee has drawn on a range of leading expertise to argue the case for reconsideration of the draft proposals developed by the NPWS.    

“We are concerned about flaws and omissions in the NPWS documentation. We are also dismayed to see that the NPWS has not been innovative in looking at how to provide a safe place for an endangered bird while also improving fire protection for Potato Point,” said Bill Leakey, association president said. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

Abandon fire break: councillor

Councillor Gabi Harding this week advised the Consultation on the Potato Point Fire Buffer that there was no point in undertaking the proposed works.

“My submission pointed to the fact that the Bushfire Risk Assessment prepared by Dr Kevin Tolhurst showed that the fire risk to Potato Point is low,” Clr Harding said.

“The assessment also showed that creating an enhanced fire break will do nothing to improve the safety of nearby houses. 

“Moreover, the Species Impact Statement prepared by EnviroKey, for the Consultation, points out that damage will be done to the habitats of threatened species if the proposed works proceed.

“In other words, environmental damage will be done for no benefit to Potato Point residents.

“My submission also calls attention to the fact that the Bushfire Risk Assessment showed that the proposed works would result in the Potato Point fire buffer exceeding the requirements of both the Planning for Bushfire Protection guidelines and the Eurobodalla Bushfire Risk Management Plan.”

Given the Potato Point community was so divided on this issue, she said she looked forward to a decision not to proceed with the further works.