Alan RusbridgerEditor-in-ChiefThe GuardianCC:
Senator the Hon Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban WaterMs. Robyn Bromley, Director, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive secretary, CBD
Stop killing dingoes
The dingo is a declared pest in most states of Australia, and livestock farmersare obliged to cull them. This is despite their protected “native” status, “threatened” status in thestate of Victoria and IUCN Red List designation as vulnerable to extinction. The dingo competeswith invasive species such as cats and foxes, which prey on endemic reptiles and birds.Because it helps to reduce the abundance of cats and foxes, removing it has a detrimentalknock-on effect for native species.
There is accumulating evidence that culling dingoes has contributed to themammal extinction crisis in Australia, including studies led by Johnson (2007), Johnson andVanDerWal (2009), Wallach (2009) and Wallach (2010). Wallach (2009) also observed thatbaiting and shooting dingoes makes them prone to attacking lambs and crucially, thatreintroducing them helps prey diversity. Maintaining a healthy dingo population is the only cost-effective way to reduce the numbers of invasive cats and foxes, which are destroying much ofthe native fauna. Sheep and cattle farmers may oppose to this action, but one solution is toincrease the use of ‘guardian’ sheep dogs to keep dingoes away from vulnerable animals.
Freshwater systems Action:
Protect catchments and restore natural water flows in freshwater systems, particularlythe Murray-Darling Basin
The rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin in south-east Australia are currentlyflowing at only 40 per cent of their natural capacity, even in an average non-drought year, dueto extensive water extraction for agriculture. Wetland sites should be protected under theinternational Ramsar Convention, but in practice Australian wetland and river biodiversity isthreatened by proposed dams, such as the Tillegra Dam in New South Wales and Meander Damin Tasmania. Another threat comes from alien fish species such as carp, trout and tilapia.Scientists would like to see much less water diverted for irrigation, the construction of new damshalted and better control of alien species. Farmers should also be incentivised to plant lesswater-intensive crops than cotton and rice, and improve river banks by planting shrubs andtrees.
Farmers need to be encouraged with incentives to plant crops that are suitable fortheir environment according to Adamson (2009) – as explained in this a video clip. This willreduce the need for irrigation on crops such as cotton and rice in dry areas. Dams cause majorhabitat loss for freshwater and riverside species, and also create barriers for migratory fishspecies (also a result of ineffective fishways) and facilitate exotic species introductions. Dams