New Report: WA’s Iconic Cockatoo Threatened by Climate Change

New Report: WA’s Iconic Cockatoo Threatened by Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE IS threatening WA’s iconic Carnaby’s black cockatoo, a new report from the Climate Council has found.

“This majestic bird was already endangered due to habitat loss from land clearing. Now it’s facing another dangerous enemy – warmer weather driven by climate change,” said Climate Councillor and lead report author, Professor Lesley Hughes.

“The Carnaby’s black cockatoo is very susceptible to heat stress and climate change is bringing more intense heatwaves, which are longer lasting and more frequent,” she said.

The Climate Council’s new report also looks at WA’s jarrah forests, which are being severely affected by climate change.

“The combination of drought and heatwaves, against a backdrop of long-term rainfall decline and warming, is affecting many Australian forests, with particularly severe impacts in the jarrah forests of southwest WA,” said Professor Hughes.

“The places that Australians identify with and the wildlife that they cherish are suffering because of intensifying climate change,” said Professor Hughes.

“Australia’s ecosystems are being transformed before our eyes. Already bruised and battered by land clearing and invasive species, climate change is adding insult to injury,” she said.

KEY FINDINGS

  • The Carnaby’s black cockatoo, WA’s jarrah forests and seagrass beds in Shark Bay are all susceptible to intensifying climate change.

  • Australia is home to more than a million species of plants and animals, yet our track record on conservation is woeful; climate change is making it even harder to protect our natural ecosystems and unique wildlife.

  • Australia’s high greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to increasingly severe changes in the climate system, which means further deterioration of our environment is inevitable.

Climate change is warming our oceans with many adverse effects, including more underwater heatwaves.

A severe underwater heatwave in Shark Bay in 2011 killed almost 90% of seagrass at some sites.

The World Heritage-listed site is home to the most extensive and diverse seagrass beds in the world, covering almost 5,000 square kilometres.

These beds store vast amounts of carbon, and provide food and shelter for dugongs and many species of fish.

“The underwater heatwave in Shark Bay that killed vast swathes of seagrass likely also resulted in the release of several million tonnes of carbon dioxide, from the sediments, into the atmosphere,” she said.

“Australia needs to take a far bolder approach to conservation to ensure our species and ecosystems are as resilient as possible to worsening extreme weather,” said Professor Hughes.

“The Federal Government is standing by while Australia’s unique ecosystems and wildlife are decimated. We must drastically reduce our contribution to climate change by phasing out fossil fuels and implementing a credible climate policy across all sectors,” she said.

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