Staring at the abyss

Having already lost much of its habitat in the last 30 years, the Southern Black-throated Finch will plummet towards extinction if Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine goes ahead as planned, experts have warned.

Image courtesy of Eric Vanderduys

In a report submitted to Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg today, the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team—charged with safeguarding this Endangered species—describes a fundamentally flawed offset plan that will have grave consequences for the future of this bird.

April Reside from the recovery team described the plan as "grossly inadequate".

"The only way to avoid impact to a threatened species is to create those offsets and make sure they are working before you go and destroy the best-known habitat," Dr Reside said.

The report finds the conditions attached to the approval of Adani's proposed mine do not protect against the bird being wiped out and that the habitat proposed in offset areas is of lower quality compared to the mining areas.

“Adani’s Carmichael mine will destroy a large part of the best remaining habitat for the Black-throated Finch, in an area that is home to a significant proportion of the largest known population,” said Dr Tony Grice, Chair of the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team.

“Losing this rich habitat would be a major blow to the chances of this bird surviving.”

"The offsets are of much poorer quality than the habitat that’s being destroyed,” Dr Grice explained. “There’s no guarantee that the rehabilitation work Adani is planning will make the offset areas any more suitable for Black-throated Finches than they already are. You cannot replace the best Black-throated Finch habitat.”

The recovery team report also highlights major flaws in the calculations used in developing the offsets for the Carmichael Coal Mine.

“These offset areas are drastically smaller than they should be to offset the mine’s impacts,” added Margaret Quixley, BirdLife Australia Conservation Manager. “Size really matters, and Adani has greatly underestimated how much land should be given over to offset their damage. What they’ve allocated is less than a half the size it’s supposed to be.”

“In short, Black-throated Finch habitat will be lost, and their dwindling numbers will fall further if these key issues are not effectively addressed.”

A copy of the report can be viewed at http://www.birdlife.org.au/media/staring-at-the-abyss/.

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