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Biodiversity letter to Australia

Biodiversity letter to Australia

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Published by AdamVaughan

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Published by: AdamVaughan on Oct 06, 2010
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 Dear Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities,I am writing on behalf of the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom and our readersworldwide to ask you to consider a proposal for protecting Australia’s biodiversity.The action has been proposed by our online readers and developed by professional scientists. Itis based by scientific evidence.We believe it will both protect an important species and habitat and send a clear signal to thenegotiations at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 in Nagoya later this monththat the decisive, concrete actions can and must be taken to halt the alarming decline in globalbiodiversity.Our campaign, Biodiversity 100, has identified 26 achievable actions in a number of countriesand has the support of the international scientific community. We are sharing our proposals with journalists around the world, who will be able to measure the success of their national and localgovernments in implementing the actions we have put forward. For more details of thecampaign please go to guardian.co.uk/biodiversity100.The specific proposals we request that you consider are to implement better protection forDingoes; protect catchments and restore natural water flows in freshwater systems, particularlythe Muarray-Darling Basin; and restrict the sale of invasive plants and ornamental fish (moredetails below).We kindly request you to react publicly to our recommendation, both through national mediaand through your statements to the CBD COP10 plenary. We also urge you to considerincluding our proposed action when you revise your National Biodiversity Strategy and ActionPlan after COP10. As a major international media outlet with a global audience, the Guardian takes seriously itsresponsibility to report on the planet’s biodiversity crisis. We would be very keen to hear backfrom you about your country’s efforts to protect the natural environment and, especially, to hearof your reaction to our proposal.The Hon Tony Burke MP Australian Government Minister for Sustainability,Environment, Water, Population & CommunitiesDepartment of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population& CommunitiesGPO Box 787Canberra ACT 2601 AustraliaOctober 5, 2010
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London
N1 9GU
Telephone 020-3353 2000guardian.co.uk
 Yours Sincerely,
 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
 Dingoes Action:
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

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