Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) Recovery Plan 2001-2005

Swift Parrot Recovery Team (2001)
Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
ISBN 0 7246 6283 9

Introduction (continued)

Current Threats

Habitat Loss

Woodlands and forests within the parrot’s over-wintering range and the blue gum forests within its restricted breeding distribution continue to be fragmented and lost through land clearance for agriculture, plantation development and urban and coastal subdivision. Since 1996 370 ha of grassy E. globulus forest within the range of the swift parrot has been cleared (Forest Practices Board 2001). In addition, forestry operations and firewood collection are altering the age structure of forests across its range, resulting in the loss of older trees which provide a substantial food resource as well as hollows for nesting.

Adult Mortality

Collisions with chain-link fences, windows and cars are a significant cause of mortality to swift parrots during the breeding season. On average, 19 adult birds that have collided with man made structures are recovered annually and four of these birds are released back into the wild. The remaining birds are either dead or the nature of their injuries do not allow them to be released. In some years the mortality can be quite high for example during the 1997-98 breeding season, 34 adult swift parrots were retrieved, 23 of which were dead. Most collisions occur in urban areas before young are fledged, when the adults are highly mobile in their search for summer flowering eucalypts, both native and introduced. The problem is exacerbated in years of poor Tasmanian blue gum flowering. In such situations swift parrots concentrate in urban areas where they forage on native and introduced flowering eucalypts. In the 1997-98 breeding season, an estimated 488 birds were recorded at 16 locations in the Hobart area between the 24 October 1997 and the 4 November 1997.

Existing Conservation Measures

The swift parrot is listed as Endangered on the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Endangered under Schedule 3 of the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995; Schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and Vulnerable under Schedule 8 of the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. In Victoria the species has been listed as a threatened taxon in Schedule 2 of the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Conservation actions have been accomplished during the implementation of the previous Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 1997 - 2000 including:

  • Surveys within the breeding and overwintering range of the swift parrot to identify, characterise and map swift parrot habitat.
  • The use of a range of mechanisms to protect known and potential foraging and breeding habitat including threatened species legislation, vegetation clearance controls, formal reservation through the Regional Forest Agreements, management prescriptions included in codes of forest practices and voluntary measures such as conservation agreements, covenants and Land for Wildlife schemes.
  • Identifying collision hotspots so that remedial measures can be taken as well as making information available to the public on how to reduce the risks of swift parrot collisions with man-made structures.
  • Establishing a program to monitor densities within the breeding range to provide a basis on which to assess the progress of the recovery program.
  • An investigation of the biology and ecology of the species to investigate the mechanisms that control the productivity of the population.
  • A review of the effectiveness of management prescriptions in conserving habitat within production forest in Tasmania. The results of the review are being used to improve the implementation of management prescriptions.
  • Involving the community in the recovery program and providing feedback through a public information and education program.

Strategy for Recovery

The recovery program will carry out the following tasks:

  • Identify and map priority foraging habitats in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and to identify important breeding sites in Tasmania.
  • Implement a strategy to protect priority sites and habitats using a range of administrative avenues and voluntary measures, including, threatened species legislation, vegetation clearance controls, management prescriptions, codes of practice, conservation agreements, covenants and Land for Wildlife schemes.
  • Identify degraded habitats that have potential to benefit the recovery of the swift parrot. These sites will be targeted for protection and habitat improvement, including undertaking rehabilitation and revegetation works.
  • Monitor collisions and collision hazards, particularly during the breeding season and take remedial action to reduce the impact of this source of mortality on the population.
  • Monitor the density of the breeding population and the extent and quality of habitat to assess the progress of the recovery program towards meeting its objectives.
  • Increase public awareness about the recovery program through an information and education program.
  • Involve the community in the recovery through the support of networks and participation in operations groups and the recovery team.