As a West Australian and educated environmentalist I am horrified by the lack of concern by the public and government about the likelihood of extinction of the Western Australian species of black cockatoos within the next 30 to 50 years.
The three species (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso, C. baudinii and C. latirostris) should be revered as symbols of the uniqueness of our local fauna, yet they are seemingly reviled and ignored while being gradually starved out of existence as they lose habitat and breeding grounds. Many of the birds we see now are already almost past breeding age and they breed only once every two years and only if they can find a suitable site.
Removal of banksia woodland that these birds rely on when in urban areas, native forest logging and the accidental burning off and removal of habitat trees in the south-west forests and wheat-belt further threatens their numbers; it takes 80 to 100 years for suitable nesting hollows to form in a tree. Ongoing removal of large urban Eucalypts also adds to their stress and risk of starvation.
In order to counteract the loss of habitat in the suburbs, where roosting and feeding areas are still being lost to development a policy for parks and open spaces needs to be introduced into every council. The policy would ensure that black cockatoo feeding and roosting tree and shrub species be planted as primary plantings rather than unsuitable, exotic species. Endemic Australian flora is the most sensible water wise choice in a drying climate, it will help to reclaim our suburbs for the beautiful and magnificent black cockatoos and provide a sense of place.
The Department of Environment and Conservation has made a comprehensive list of Australian and exotic species that can be planted to provide food for these birds.
Among the most ideal species would be the tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala); these endemic large trees should be a priority species for planting in parkland areas where there is space for them. These local trees are important for fostering local species and maintaining ecosystem services, including oxygen, wind reduction and shade. Banksia woodland needs to be replaced through encouragement of planting endemic species such as Banksia, Hakea, and other shrubs with edible seeds in home gardens. Action needs to be carried out urgently to provide food quickly to replace recently lost habitat as any planting will take 3 years or more before any food is available to the birds.
I am calling on this council to introduce such a policy and make a commitment to stop endangering the black cockatoos by planting suitable species and by disallowing the removal of any further native vegetation in your council’s area.