A migratory bird species that visits the wetlands at Hastings, on Victoria’s Western Port Bay, is among eight bird species added to Australia’s threatened species list for the first time.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the new listings underscore the importance of protecting wetlands at Western Port in Victoria and Moreton Bay in Queensland.

“Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek made the right decision in not allowing a facility to assemble wind turbines for offshore windfarms to be built on the sensitive wetlands of Western Port,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

Sharp-tailed sandpipers make an epic journey every year, leaving Australia in March to fly to Siberia, where they breed, before returning to Australian wetlands in August.

“Australia needs to get off coal and gas and accelerate the rollout of renewables, including offshore wind, but this proposal for a wind turbine assembly facility is in the wrong place.

“There are some places too precious to damage, including wetlands of international importance, like those at Western Port in Victoria and Moreton Bay in Queensland.

“Victoria is the most over-cleared state in Australia, so there is no need to destroy a wetland that is home to threatened birds for a renewable energy assembly plant. It can go elsewhere.

“Breaking Australia’s dangerous fixation with climate-wrecking fossil fuels and powering everything we can with renewables is an important and a huge task, but we don’t need to wreck threatened species habitat to do it.

“With the world having just experienced the hottest year on record, politicians that try to weaponise renewables or Minister Plibersek’s decision are being reckless in the extreme.

“To stem the accelerating extinction crisis, the government must urgently strengthen our national environment law.

“Just as Minister Plibersek has made a sound decision on the Western Port wetlands, we urge her to reject Walker Corporation’s proposal for a marina and high-rise apartment complex on the Ramsar wetland at Toondah Harbour on Moreton Bay, near Brisbane.”

Added to the threatened species list for the first time on 5 January were the Black-tailed godwit and the Common greenshank (both endangered), Ruddy turnstone, Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Latham’s snipe, Asian dowitcher, Grey plover and Terek sandpiper (vulnerable).

The Terek sandpiper is known to feed on the wetlands at Toondah Harbour.

Header pic by Toni Briant

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