A failure to protect migratory shorebirds in the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary has been reported to the Federal Environment Department by a local action group.
The St Kilda Mangroves Alliance says mismanagement of the Dry Creek salt field, which is now in a “holding pattern”, has caused huge variations in the salinity and water level of each pond, destabilising the conditions needed to produce food for migratory shorebirds.
In its letter to the Federal Environment Department, Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins blamed a “loss of control of the managed environment” leading “directly to the second set of impacts further south”.
“Hypersaline waste brine was pumped into decommissioned dams, from whence it leaked into the adjacent saltmarshes and mangroves,” he wrote.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, any proposed action that may impact matters of environmental national significance is referred to the Department for consideration, as it may need formal assessment and approval in advance.
But no such referral was made by the company operating the Dry Creek salt field – Buckland Dry Creek.
Frustrated, scientists at the St Kilda Mangroves Alliance have lodged a complaint with a comprehensive report to the Department about the alleged breach of the Act.
Independent ecologist Faith Coleman said the group had “
such a large body of information that quite clearly points to there having been an impact to federally-listed species or communities”.
“And for us, almost a year on, to be seeing so very little on the ground, as far as improvement, is bothering us.”
The department confirmed it had received the complaint from the St Kilda Mangroves Alliance.
“The Department is making inquiries to determine if matters of national environmental significance have or are likely to be impacted,” It said in a statement.
It referred any further comment to the SA Environment Department, who referred any comment back to the federal department.
“Matters under the EPBC Act remain a matter for the Commonwealth Department for Environment,” the statement said.
“SA Government Regulators have been in regular contact with the Commonwealth Government in relation to the Dry Creek salt fields and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act,” a spokesman said.
“The evidence suggests that the impacts have stabilised for a number of months, however monitoring continues.”
It is not clear what “regular contact” means, during what time period or how much information has been exchanged, as that detail was not provided, despite requests from The Advertiser.
The Advertiser has contacted the salt field operator Buckland Dry Creek for comment.
Originally published as Management of mangroves a ‘clear breach of the Act’