Swift Parrot facing extinction as decline accelerates


Researchers have predicted there may be fewer than 100 Swift Parrots surviving in the wild by 2031 as the decline of the species continues to accelerate.

The nomadic species faces a number of threats to its existence, including logging of its breeding habitat in Tasmania and predation.

Giselle Owens, a PhD student at the Australian National University, led a paper published earlier this year that modelled population changes in the species based on years of monitoring.

Remaining Swift Parrot breeding habitat in Tasmania must be permanently protected without delay to save the species, according to researchers (JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons.

The research found that there may be fewer than 100 Swift Parrots in 2031, with a mean population of only 58 individuals, unless there is a dramatic push to save the species.

Samantha Vine, head of conservation and science at BirdLife Australia, said: "We are watching extinction in real time for Swift Parrot. We know what to do and how to turn this around. Starting with ending the logging and then permanently protecting their remaining breeding habitat in Tasmania."

Swift Parrots migrate to south-eastern mainland Australia after breeding in Tasmania over the summer. The species is categorised as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The government's new Swift Parrot Recovery Plan, announced this year, has come under fire from conservationists who say that it does not properly address the logging in Tasmania, the only place in the world where the species breeds.

Dr Dejan Stojanovic, conservation scientist at the Australian National University, said: "To stop Swift Parrots going extinct in the next 10 years we need to protect what’s left of their Tasmanian breeding habitat today – there's no more time to waste."

Owens said her research showed that trees with hollows were crucial for both Swift Parrots and Sugar Gliders. By diminishing the available habitat for both species, predation by Sugar Gliders intensifies in area impacted by logging. The possums predate female parrots and their nests.

She said the species' needs are representative of the requirements of a huge range of other forest-dependent wildlife.

Owens added: "We need our forests for overcoming climate change and for all the other species that are on the same slippery slope."