Southern Brown Bandicoot, Image from Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
According to Professor Norman Myers earth is experiencing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years with the loss of species more severe than the five mass extinctions of the geological past.
As mentioned at a previous blog post, south-western Western Australia has been listed as one of the hotspots in Australia. I asked David Ward from Western Australia for comment and he replied:
I am not an expert on extinctions, but I believe there have been a lot in south-western Australia, especially in the cleared wheat belt.
The forests have had, as far as I know, very few losses, despite logging and regular burning for many years. I would say that lack of regular burning, followed by very fierce fires, is the main threat to forest species.
Several times, plants have been reported extinct, or endangered, only to reappear profusely after a fire. Native animals are, if anything, making a comeback, due to CALM’s fox-baiting.
The supposedly endangered Brown Bandicoot is common in the semi-rural suburb where I live, and is even regarded by some as a nuisance, digging up gardens.
A nearby golf course is swarming with kangaroos.
There is a problem with loss of habitat and species, but we should take a balanced view.
Does Norman Myers mention inappropriate fire exclusion as a threat to biota? I would say it is at least as worthy of attention as clearing.
Oddly, few university researchers have tackled it, concentrating instead on the effects of frequent burning.
Scientists may be objective in a particular study, but the choice of research question is far from objective. Four legs good, two legs bad?