Wilderness photographer arrested defending Swift Parrot habitat

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One of Tasmania’s most renowned wilderness photographers, Rob Blakers, has been arrested by police after refusing to leave an area of critically endangered Swift Parrot habitat being destroyed in Tasmania’s Eastern Tiers.

The Snow Hill coupe SH050B logging has seen continued protests into its second week as members of the community have been standing up to prevent the extinction of the world’s fastest parrot. Today is the third stop work action in the same forests.

“For the last three summers, I have photographed the Swift Parrot in southern Tasmania and the Eastern Tiers, climbing trees to photograph them in the canopy and at the nest. I first went to the forest at SH050B in late November 2022. It was extraordinary. From then until early January there were consistent aggregations of Swift Parrots in numbers not seen anywhere else. This was by far the most important Swift Parrot site in Tasmania in the 2022/2023 summer,” said Rob Blakers.

“Flocks of up to 30 birds were observed on several occasions, with 12 parrots photographed in a single tree on Christmas Eve. On many mornings and evenings, their calls were the dominant sound of the forest. At least one nesting site was confirmed, but there were almost certainly more. Parrots were flocking and feeding in both the canopy and at ground level. This was prime Swift Parrot habitat and an extraordinary natural phenomenon.”

“Two weeks ago logging began in this forest. I spent two full days last week urgently attempting to contact Forestry Tasmania. There was no response to my calls. This echoed the experience in December and January when successive emails to Forestry Tasmania requesting information regarding logging plans for the Eastern Tiers went unanswered. In the last few days I have returned to this forest to document the damage. The southeast portion of the coupe, which was alive with Swift Parrots through the summer, has been substantially logged. In spite of the protection that should have been afforded by its SPIBA
designation, virtually all of the large trees here have been felled. The few older trees that remain are isolated and exposed to windthrow. Trees have been felled as close as 35 metres from the identified nest tree. The inadequacy of the protection is breathtaking – a blatant disregard for the habitat requirements of this Critically Endangered species The logging at SH050B pushes the Swift Parrot closer to extinction. All Swift Parrot habitat should be immediately protected in secure reserves,” concluded Rob Blakers.

“Forestry Tasmania has completely ignored correspondence regarding the scientific data from this coupe we have provided to allow the FPA to give informed advice about the essential values of this coupe. It is time environment Minister Tanya Plibersek stepped in and stopped forestry destroying our forests and made some serious and real conservation outcomes happen to prevent extinctions and climate chaos,” said Erik Hayward, Bob Brown Foundation Campaigner.

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