Australia’s new Environment Minister, Melissa Price, has an opportunity to stand up for threatened species when she decides on a proposal to clear up to 1846 hectares of native woodland on Cape York.

Advice from the Environment Department to the previous minister, obtained by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) under a freedom of information request, shows bureaucrats warned the minister clearing at Kingvale Station would cause significant damage to several threatened species at very high risk of extinction.

Minister Price could decide on the Kingvale clearing application any day now.

“Kingvale is in a crucial catchment area for the Great Barrier Reef and is habitat for rare and threatened parrots, quolls, birds of prey and bats,” said ACF Nature Campaigner, Andrew Picone.

The Golden-shouldered parrot, once found across Cape York Peninsula, is now restricted to two small areas around Kingvale. The species nests in termite mounds and feeds amongst the woodlands slated for clearing.

The department said as the Golden-shouldered parrot was “at very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, the Department considers that you may properly find that the proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on this species.”

The Department raised similar concerns about clearing destroying habitat for the Bare-rumped sheathtail bat, the Northern quoll and five other nationally threatened species.

“Despite the demonstrable risk to threatened species, in April this year the Federal Government provided draft approval for land clearing on Kingvale,” Mr Picone said.

“If significant impacts on species with a high risk of extinction can be waved through, then it is clear we need better laws to protect critical habitat for threatened species.

“As an Assistant Minister, Ms Price showed her interest in protecting Australia’s unique endangered wildlife, overseeing the delivery of Threatened Species Strategy targets.

“ACF strongly urges Minister Price to now stand up for threatened species by preventing the proposed environmental destruction at Kingvale on Cape York,” he said.

Josh Meadows

Media Adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation