Reclaim Our Reserves
Sarah Lloyd talks about Westbury Reserve
Ornithologist and naturalist Sarah Lloyd OAM spoke about Westbury Reserve during the Wilderness Society's "Reclaim Our Reserves" forum at Hobart Town Hall on 10 December 2020.
The full event video is available on Facebook (Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes)
Here is the text version of Sarah's talk:
Westbury Reserve is 70 hectares of grassy eucalypt forest purchased in 1999 with Commonwealth government funds for conservation. Despite it being part of the National Reserve system, the Tasmanian government has decided that it wants to build its northern regional high security prison on Westbury Reserve.
If the prison goes ahead it could disrupt the breeding of the Wedge-tailed Eagle that has a nest in a young white gum on the boundary of the adjoining property.
It will destroy the habitat of the Tasmanian Masked Owl, a species that is listed as vulnerable in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
It will destroy the habitat of 30 species of forest birds. These include endemic species, birds that are found nowhere else on the planet - Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Yellow Wattlebird, Green Rosella, Tasmanian Scrubwren. How irresponsible of the Tasmanian government to destroy habitat of these birds that are part of our natural heritage.
Some of the birds at Westbury Reserve include migratory species - Satin Flycatcher, Dusky Woodswallow, Cuckoos and Blue-winged Parrots. We know these species are declining, and they're declining because their habitat is being destroyed in Tasmania where they breed, and on the Australian mainland where they spend the winter. They will go the same way as the critically endangered Swift Parrot if this needless destruction is allowed to occur.
It would be sheer vandalism to cut down hundreds of trees that are on the proposed prison footprint.
These trees include eucalypts that take up to 80 years to form small hollows suitable for nesting by small birds like Striated Pardalotes... and a further 200 to 300 years to form large cavities suitable for Masked Owl. They are fast disappearing from the surrounding landscape and must be retained at the reserve.
If the prison goes ahead, a significant population of the rare blue pincushion plant will be bulldozed and probably burnt. Amongst these plants are at least 12 species of native orchids, lilies and other herbaceous plants.
Fungi, lichens, moss, liverworts and slime moulds will be obliterated.
Invertebrates — butterflies, hover flies, dragonflies, crane flies, pesky flies, spiders and canary worms will perish.
It will interrupt the wildlife corridor used by animals from neighbouring land as they move from one part of their habitat to the next. Tasmanian devils, spotted tailed quoll, eastern barred bandicoot and green and gold frog.
What impact will the illuminated building have on all species in the vicinity?
We know birds, can be attracted to, confused by and killed by lit up buildings.
Insects are also attracted to nocturnal lights, and many will perish as a result.
The 16-hectare proposed prison footprint is a biodiversity hotspot and destroying it will severely compromise the integrity of the entire reserve. It is by far the richest site for miles around and is not an appropriate place for a prison. There are plenty of biological deserts that are far more suitable sites.