SOUTHERN BLACK-THROATED FINCH
Now found only in Queensland, the Southern Black-throated Finch has already been declared extinct in New South Wales. Its two known remaining strongholds are in the Townsville area, where it occupies prime residential land, and the Galilee Basin region where numerous coal mines are proposed — including the controversial Carmichael coal mine.
Significant populations of Southern Black-throated Finch were discovered at the Carmichael mine site in 2013, not long after the proposed mine site had been assessed for environmental impacts and approved by both the Queensland and Federal Governments.
A couple of years later, a legal challenge overturned Federal approval for the mine, giving the Federal Minister the opportunity to consider impacts of the mine on the newly discovered, significant Finch population. Yet despite acknowledging this new information, the Federal Environment Minister approved the Carmichael coal mine for a second time.
A lack of transparency and inadequate consultation forced the Southern Black-throated Finch Recovery Team to use Freedom of Information laws to access Offsets & Management Plans, which they found to be grossly inadequate in terms of safeguarding the future of the Finch and restoring its critical habitat.
Today, the Carmichael mine remains approved, pending development.
Despite the known significance of the Galilee Basin for the Southern Black-throated Finch, once again our nature laws are failing to protect the birds and places we love, and the habitat that they rely upon.
In the meantime, developments on Finch habitat continue to be approved in isolation from one another. With little consideration of their cumulative impact on the species, these approvals across the region will likely lead to the extinction of the Southern Black-throated Finch throughout its entire range.
A new National Sustainability Commission would provide the national leadership required to develop and implement plans to tackle complex and cumulative pressures such as habitat loss and degradation across species’ range.
The Commission would be responsible for developing enforceable recovery plans for threatened species and comprehensive monitoring programs to ensure that planning is based on high quality information.
This means that important species’ populations will be more well documented, reducing the likelihood that key habitats and populations will be subject to destructive activities.
Improved monitoring will also help us to track and avoid cumulative impacts across a species’ range and to demonstrate that actions to recover species are effective.
Southern Black-throated Finch by L. Stanley Tang