National recovery plan for the Golden-shouldered Parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius) 2003-2007

Recovery Plan
Dr Stephen Garnett and Dr Gabriel Crowley
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane

2. Objectives and criteria

Overall objective

  1. Improve the conservation status of the golden-shouldered parrot from endangered to vulnerable.
  2. Develop and implement land management strategies that restore grassland and grassy woodlands to the benefit of dependent fauna and in sympathy with co-existing land values.
  3. Assist recolonization of known former golden-shouldered parrot habitat.
  4. Operate the recovery program efficiently, cost-effectively, and with high levels of community participation.
  5. Each overall objective is supported by a range of specific objectives, performance criteria and actions (Appendix 2).

Specific Objectives

  1. Manage habitat for golden-shouldered parrots at a landscape scale.
  2. Maintain parrot population at receding edge of distribution.
  3. Determine population trends.
  4. Determine and manage impacts of pied butcherbirds on nest success.
  5. Determine and manage impacts of change in vegetation structure on black-faced woodswallows.
  6. Assess and minimize adverse impacts of cattle and pigs on food plants and termite mounds.
  7. Increase the number of wild populations of golden-shouldered parrots.
  8. Downlist species from endangered to vulnerable.
  9. Support recovery process.

Performance criteria

C.1.1: Management plans on relevant National Parks on Cape York Peninsula include specific actions for maintaining structure of grasslands and grassy woodlands.
C.1.2: Management of grasslands and grassy woodlands on designated National Parks is consistent with guidelines.
C.1.3: Property plans on at least two pastoral properties include specific actions for conservation of golden-shouldered parrots.
C.1.4: Management on designated pastoral properties for golden-shouldered parrots compliant with property plans.
C.2.1: Parrots attending at least one wet season feeding station on eastern edge of distribution.
C.3.1: Population trends are quantified.
C.4.1: Pied butcherbird project plan approved.
C.4.2: Influence of pied butcherbird predation on nest productivity quantified and recommendations incorporated into parrot management.
C.5.1: Relationship between nesting success of black-faced woodswallows and vegetation structure quantified, management implications determined and recommendations incorporated into parrot management.
C.6.1: Levels of cattle and pig damage on cockatoo grass and termite mounds are quantified.
C.6.2: Interim guidelines for cattle stocking rates and pig control measures are provided.
C.6.3: Recommended guidelines for cattle stocking rates and pig control measures are incorporated into management plans.
C.7.1: Management of reintroduction trial area complies with strategy for management of golden-shouldered parrot habitat on National Parks.
C.7.2: Nursery stocks of cockatoo grass are adequate to supply re-vegetation requirements.
C.7.3: Reintroduction trial area contains healthy population of seeding cockatoo grass.
C.7.4: A captive breeding program to provide golden-shouldered parrots for reintroduction is operating within IUCN guidelines.
C.8.1: Submission made to Threatened Species Scientific Committee to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth).
C.8.2: Submission made to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable under Schedule 3 of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994.
C.9.1: Continued functioning of a recovery team to direct the recovery process, a major review and a new recovery plan.

Evaluation of recovery plan

A recovery team will meet on a regular basis (generally at an annual recovery team meeting) to assess the progress of the recovery plan (Action 9.1.1). Consultant(s) will be contracted to review the recovery plan in the fourth year (Action 9.1.4).

3. Recovery Actions

Specific objective 1 Manage habitat for golden-shouldered parrots at a landscape scale

Action 1.1.1 Advise National Park management regarding fire management of grasslands and grassy woodlands.

Habitat management, particularly using fire, is part of current National Parks practice, and involves consultation with traditional owners, other stakeholders and environmental advisors, as appropriate. Guidelines for the maintenance of golden-shouldered parrot habitat (Crowley et al. 2002), which were prepared as part of the ongoing recovery planning process, should be adopted as part of this process. Maintenance of open vegetation structure, particularly of grassland nesting habitat and wet season feeding areas, is considered essential to the persistence of golden-shouldered parrots. Persistence of parrots on Staaten River National Park is thought to be attributable to regular fires at the time of the first wet season storms, which maintain the open structure of grasslands and grassy woodlands. Recovery of grasslands and grassy woodlands may also permit the recolonization of abandoned habitat on Mungkan Kandju National Park. Recovery of grasslands and grassy woodlands in Mungkan Kandju National Park will increase the availability of potential habitat for the golden-shouldered parrot and other dependent fauna (including the antbed parrot moth, and buff-breasted button-quail).

Fire management plans for Staaten River and Mungkan Kandju National Parks will be prepared in consultation with a member of the golden-shouldered parrot recovery team. For relevant habitats see Table 6 (above). Action is to be carried out annually with the pattern from 2003 being used as a template for future years. Funding is required to cover the salary of the recovery team officer.

Administration: QPWS . Fieldwork: QPWS ; traditional owners.

Action 1.2.1 Implement and assess adherence to grassland and grassy woodland management guidelines on designated National Parks.

Implementation of NRM guidelines regarding maintenance of grasslands and grassy woodlands is required to ensure the protection of existing habitat on Staaten River National Park, and to recover abandoned habitat on Mungkan Kandju National Park. Implementation will be undertaken as part of existing National Park management.

Annual workshops will be held during the wet season to assess the compliance of the previous year's burn program with planned burns and to plan the burn program for the coming year. National Park management consults with park traditional owners as a part of this annual process. Country is then burnt to fit, as far as possible, with proposed burning schedules. For relevant habitats see Table 6 (above). Action is annual. No additional funding is required; action is core QPWS activity.

Administration: QPWS. Fieldwork: QPWS, traditional owners.

Action 1.3.1 Participate in property planning on Cape York Peninsula.

Property planning provides the most effective means of implementing management consistent with golden-shouldered parrot conservation.

Property planning is an ongoing process on two Cape York Peninsula properties where golden-shouldered parrots occur and involves leaseholders, traditional owners and government. Plans produced limit grazing in golden-shouldered parrot habitat and provide guidelines for ongoing management that reflect the results of monitoring. For relevant habitats see Table 6 (above). Action is ongoing and has to fit with wider timetables. For plans to be ratified, funds are required for on-ground works (to be provided from outside the recovery plan budget). Parrot-related discussion as part of property planning is provided as in kind support for the recovery process.

Administration: QPWS, leaseholders, traditional owners.

Action 1.4.1 Implement and assess adherence to golden-shouldered parrot habitat management guidelines on designated pastoral properties.

The primary recommendation for the first two property plans being negotiated is fencing to enable spell grazing. Spell grazing will allow fuel build-up for storm-burning and the recovery of cockatoo grass from grazing.

Fences will be erected to enable parts of each property important for golden-shouldered parrot to be spelled from grazing. Annual grazing regimes will be determined after discussion with QPWS and will depend on pasture condition, amount of rain in the wet season and fire history. At the same time compliance with previous plans will be assessed. Fencing is an ongoing process as material becomes available. For relevant habitats see Table 6 (above). On-ground action will be timetabled into the annual work program. Other activities are annual and would be timed to coincide with traditional owners as part of conditions under an Indigenous Land Use Agreement. Funds are required for fencing materials and some labour (from outside recovery plan budget). Annual meeting costs relating to parrot management are provided as in-kind support to the recovery process.

Fieldwork: leaseholders, traditional owners.

Specific objective 2 Maintain parrot population at receding north-eastern edge of distribution

Action 2.1.1 Provide seed for parrots during wet season at one or more feeding stations on north-eastern edge of distribution.

The distribution of golden-shouldered parrots contracted at its eastern fringe between 1974 and 1997 (Garnett and Crowley 1999). Since 1996, supplementary feeding appears to have been successful in arresting this decline. Previously abandoned nesting areas close to one feeding station have been continually occupied since supplementary wet season food was supplied. Monitoring will determine whether this service is continuing to provision the parrots.

Feeding stations are supplied with seed as required from the late dry season to the mid wet season. On one morning per fortnight, the size and composition of parrot flocks attending the feeding station will be counted in the first two hours after dawn. Actions are annual. Funding is required to provide seed and for salary.

Administration: QPWS. Fieldwork: QPWS.

Specific objective 3 Determine population trends

Action 3.1.1 Sequentially monitor populations at selected sites once every five years.

Mapping and determining the success of nests is the most effective means of measuring the success of population trends (Garnett and Crowley 1999). Yearly monitoring of nest sites on Artemis station indicates that following population declines between 1992 and 1998, the population is stabilizing. Five-yearly monitoring of remote nest sites in 1996/7 and 2001/2 has established that the monitored populations at most other sites are stable. Five-yearly monitoring of key areas is therefore considered adequate to establish trends throughout the parrot's distribution.

Surveys involve riding along suitable habitat searching for nests during the period May-July and recording locations of survey path and locations of nests. Comparisons of populations will be made using minimum convex polygon within nesting habitat. Subject to permission from relevant leaseholders and traditional owners, the surveys would be conducted according to the following timetable:

2003: lowlands between Sugarloaf Creek and Mary's Creek; south of the road to Dixie Station:
2004: lowlands between Sugarloaf Creek and Artemis bullock paddock; north of the road to Dixie Station;
2005: east from Artemis bullock paddock from South Five Mile Creek to Seventeen Mile Creek;
2006: previously surveyed sites on Kalinga, Mary Valley, Killarney;
2007: Bulimba Station and Staaten River National Park.
Funds are required for salary, and for motorcycle fuel and maintenance. Funds are also sought for hire of an additional motorcycle for surveys away from Artemis.

Administration: QPWS. Fieldwork: QPWS, leaseholders, traditional owners.