Resumption of logging threatens honeyeater

Marj Andrews has led intrepid bird watchers from all around the world to the Clark Range west of Mackay for more than 15 years.
Marj Andrews has led intrepid bird watchers from all around the world to the Clark Range west of Mackay for more than 15 years. Peter Holt

MARJ Andrews has led intrepid bird watchers from all around the world to the Clark Range west of Mackay for more than 15 years.

Most of them have only one reason for visiting - the Eungella honeyeater.

"They're a plain little bird, no bright colours at all and they flit around quite a lot," Ms Andrews said.

"But because this is the only place in the world they're found, I have had people from so many countries contacting me and asking me to go with them to Eungella so they can see this honeyeater."

Recently, the bird's habitat has come under threat, with logging resuming in Crediton State Forest, adjacent to Eungella National Park.

The last time logging occurred in the forest, which makes up part of the honeyeater's winter feeding ground, was in 2000.

Listed as near threatened, the Eungella honeyeater's population is believed to be declining.

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Patricia Julien said the implications of logging the forest went further than just threatening the bird's habitat.

She said the previous State Government had been preparing to nominate the Mackay Highlands, including Eungella NP and Crediton SF, for World Heritage listing, before it was voted out of office last year.

"Queensland Parks and Wildlife was preparing to do it if it could get Crediton State Forest free of logging and cattle, and that's what they started to do in 2000," Ms Julien said.

But she said that hope was now lost.

"You can't log World Heritage areas."

Of particular concern for the Mackay Conservation Group is the logging of mature trees in the forest, favourites of the honeyeater and other native animals.

For Ms Andrews, the value of the bird to the Mackay region is clear.

"It worries every keen bird watcher because that area has been logged and I don't know how much more is going to go on," she said.

"That's why they (bird watchers) come to Mackay.

"This is the only place in the world they can see it and they want to see as many as possible."

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MINISTER for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh did not respond to questions prior to the Daily Mercury's deadline yesterday.

However, it is understood the logging application for Crediton Forest was made in March this year.

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Patricia Julien called on the State Government to undertake research into the impacts of logging on the Eungella honeyeater's habitat before it was too late.

"These impacts should be well-researched before logging is approved as it is unlikely they could be mitigated," she said in a letter to Mr McVeigh.

"About 1/12 of Crediton State Forest contains cleared regrowth area, which has been slow to regenerate.

"Research should be undertaken here to show how well the Eungella honeyeater does in a formerly logged environment before more logging is contemplated as recovery time is so slow."

At least three mining exploration permits and a pipeline survey licence also cover parts of Crediton State Forest.

Topics:  birds logging mackay conservation group

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