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Origin of the problem
Many bird species in the Murray-Darling Basin risk disappearing. The Australian Action Plan for Birds declared twenty-four bird species to be in the category of almost endangered species. It also identified fourteen species of birds as already endangered. Many farmers and encroachers have cleared the grass cover and woodland habitats.
Residents have already cleared 85% of the forest in Victoria and 75% in the neighbouring NSW for different reasons. The rest of the forest is scattered all over the basin while some part of it rests on infertile soils. The residents have also continuously collected dead and living timber in these forests. Such activities have led to the depletion of bird habitats. The authorities also deliberately introduced foxes into the basin’s ecosystem, leading the depletion of bird species due to predation.
In most regions of the basin, many birds have lost their habitats due to fire and forest clearance. The frequent fires and forest clearance in these areas have led to extensive migration of different species of birds.
Many people who live along Murray and other rivers in the basin have been engaging in the destruction of both living and dead trees along these rivers. Their destructive activities include cutting down the trees for firewood and timber and ring barking. Some natural activities along these rivers have also contributed to this loss of trees. They include waterlogging and salinization. These activities have greatly reduced breeding places and habitats of many water birds.
The victims of the problem
The loss of birds will greatly affect the people who live in this basin. They may not have seen the consequences of losing the birds now, but will see them in the future. The birds are part of the basin’s ecosystem, and losing them makes the system incomplete. Besides, the region is likely to lose the economic benefits it has been getting from the tourists who have been visiting the region with the purpose of seeing the different species of birds.
Attitudes of farm owners and ecological experts
Farm owners have never thought about the elimination of the birds as a possible threat to the entire ecosystem. They always think about their welfare at the expense of their colleagues in the ecosystem. If they were aware of this fact, they would not cut down the trees for firewood and timber. They would also spare dead trees to serve as habitats for the birds. On the other hand, the experts are fully aware of the consequences of losing birds. As a result, they have come up with different policies to remedy the situation.
The available data indicates that the basin will have 38 species of birds under the threat of completely dying. Currently, 24 species of birds are almost disappearing while 14 species have already disappeared. Statistics also indicates that the major cause of threats to the birds is human activities. Human beings are busy destroying habitats and breeding places for the birds. So far, people who live in the regions that fall in the Murray-Darling Basin have cleared 85% of the forest in Victoria and approximately 75% of the forest in New South Wales. If this trend continues, the region is likely to lose lots of revenue.
Local and international projections
The Australian Action Plan for Birds indicates that this trend is likely to go up in the future. Evidence shows that the number of people encroaching on forests and other natural resources is rising every day. Therefore, it is imperative that the number of endangered species will continue rising. There is little international research on this topic, but as a rule, the destruction of habitats leads to the migration of all species that reside in that region.
Division of the problem into a series
Experts should divide this problem into three categories and handle them separately. These sub-branches are habitats, birds and water. Problems that directly relate to habitats such as the cutting down of both living and dead trees should then get separate solutions. For example, the government should abolish the cutting of trees, whether dead or alive, and give harsh punishments to the offenders.
The authorities should also look at the problems that come with the water in the dams and find solutions to them. For example, they should reduce the level of salinity in the water by adding fresh water in the dams through fresh water tributaries. They should also solve problems that relate to the birds separately. For example, they should take some of the endangered birds and breed them separately in a good environment.
Existing programs that attempt to handle this problem include:
- Integrated catchment management
- The National Plan for Water Security
- Water for the Future
- Abatement plans
Responsible government authorities
The Australian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management is in charge of the entire problem. This ministry oversees everything that relates to the environment, forestry, agriculture and water. Therefore, this problem entirely falls within its jurisdiction.