Coal mines approved between 2012 and 2015 will damage or degrade most of the high quality black-throated finch habitat that’s left.

Despite formal protection, the once common, now endangered black-throated finch is no longer found in 88 per cent of its historical range, while four approved coal mines – including Adani’s – would clear at least 29,000 more hectares of the bird’s remaining habitat.

That’s the stark news from a scientific paper, ‘How to send a finch extinct’, published today in the Environmental Science and Policy journal, which traces the decline of the southern black-throated finch, once widespread across north-eastern Australia.

Most of the habitat for black-throated finch was cleared before 2000, mostly for agriculture before the mid-1970s.

Australia has had a national environment protection law since 2000, yet in the last 18 years, 775 proposals for commercial projects on habitat suitable for the black-throated finch have been referred under the national law and only one project has ever been refused approval on the basis that it would have an unacceptable impact on the finch.

The paper reveals that the clearing of more than 500,000 hectares of the black-throated finch’s habitat did not receive any oversight from the Federal Government.

Christian Slattery, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Stop Adani Campaigner, said the finch’s remaining habitat was far from safe.

“The black-throated finch is now found in only 12 per cent of its historical range and coal mines approved between 2012 and 2015 will damage or degrade most of the high quality black-throated finch habitat that’s left,” he said.

“The area earmarked for Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine is home to the largest known population of black-throated finches and some of the best remaining habitat.

“Big coal mining companies like Adani can’t be trusted to protect endangered species like the finch, especially when they stand in the way of making a quick buck.

“Adani’s plan to ‘offset’ the land-clearing of the finch’s habitat by ‘securing’ habitat somewhere else is no solution, particularly when the habitat to be bulldozed is of very high quality.

“To stop the black-throated finch from going extinct we need to stop ripping up its habitat for dirty new coal mines.”

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