Protecting Brolgas
 
Here are the Brolga Recovery Group’s top four tips for protecting Brolgas:

1. Record your Brolga observations (location, time and date, numbers of birds, and whether they are feeding, nesting, roosting or flocking). You can email your observations to us at brolgarecovery@gmail.com and we will pass them on to Birdlife Australia’s Atlas and the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas. Make sure you keep a copy of your sightings for your own records. Without records of where Brolgas live and breed, it can be more difficult to protect them from activities that may impact on their survival. While one-off records can be valuable, regular monitoring of Brolgas and their habitats is needed to give a clearer picture of where they feed, roost, flock and nest.     

2. Landholders with Brolgas on their property can do a great deal to help protect them. Priority activities include:
  • controlling grazing of wetlands using plain wire fencing
  • controlling foxes and other predators
  • avoiding pesticide use or baiting in the areas around wetlands, to help protect the Brolgas’ food supply.
Once these measures are established, consider a Trust for Nature covenant for the wetland area and surrounds to ensure the site’s protection into the future. A great resource for landholders - Brolga Breeding Habitat, Managing Wetlands on Your Farm - can be found on the Murray Wildlife website (7 MB).

3. Be aware of activities and developments in your area that may impact on Brolgas and their habitats. Ensure that planners and developers have been made aware – in writing – of your local Brolgas and the need to avoid potential impacts on their habitat and survival. Don’t assume that Brolga data on state and national databases is being automatically considered in planning proposals. You need to take the initiative to inform planning authorities and developers of Brolgas and their habitats in your area. Don’t leave it until it is too late. Lobby developers and planning departments to ensure they follow through with protection measures. Always keep a copy of written correspondence.

4. Write to state and federal politicians asking that Brolgas receive greater protection through the planning system. Avoidance of harm to Brolgas should be the priority, rather than mitigation.

Since 2011, the Brolga Recovery Group has been asking the state government for a moratorium on wind farm developments in known Brolga habitat areas until the results of the South West Victoria Brolga Research Project have been released and incorporated into planning schemes. The group wants adequate buffers from turbines to prevent Brolga displacement from flocking, nesting, roosting and feeding sites, or death and injury in flight paths. A more robust and accountable system of applying buffers is needed as the current state government guidelines for buffers are very weak and are not being adopted by proponents or enforced by the state government. An assessment of the cumulative impact of wind farms on Brolga populations in southwest Victoria is urgently needed.  State government departments must also make all their Brolga records available to proponents so these sites can be adequately buffered.

US researcher Laura Navarrete completed a thesis looking at the impacts of wind farms in Texas on wintering Sandhill Cranes (a similar species to our Brolga).  This research showed disturbance to the cranes from wind farms and changes in behaviour.  You can read Laura’s thesis here.  Laura has also documented two crane deaths from turbine strikes that she observed during the course of her research.   Valuable information can be gleaned from her research to inform planning processes, but this work has been overlooked by Australian planners, wind farm proponents and their consultants.
 

It is imperative that planning processes use all available information, including all Brolga data records, research such as Laura Navarrete’s thesis, and information discovered during the South West Victoria Brolga Research Project – the release of which is long overdue.

To support Brolga protection, please email the Victorian Minister for Environment and the Minister for Planning asking that: 

  • a moratorium be put in place for wind farm developments in known Brolga habitat areas until the results of the South West Victoria Brolga Research Project have been released and incorporated into planning schemes

  • a cumulative impact assessment be carried out as a matter of urgency

  • all relevant data and research is to be used in planning processes so that Brolgas can be given adequate buffers from wind farm developments.   

Email to:

Minister for Environment:  Lily D'Ambrosio  lily.d'ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au

Minister for Planning:   Richard Wynne richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au