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Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:18 pm
by ForumAdmin
East Kimberley Fire Project Outline - Update 30/6/08

Overall Goal :

Coordinated fire management and improved Gouldian Finch habitat condition in the East Kimberley.


o Staff - 1 FTE East Kimberley Fire Coordinator
o Vehicle - 1 Troop Carrier
o Training - Conservation and Land Management Cert II + III
o Fire Equipment standard safety and ignition/suppression gear
o GIS software and plotter
o Research partnerships in carbon markets and Gouldian Finch recovery
o Office facility


o Fire management planning and review workshops
o Community engagement activities
o Steering committee meetings
o Fire burning activities
o Threatened species surveys
o Transfer of traditional knowledge
o On country activities
o GIS Mapping activities
o Accredited Ranger training sessions
o ACB neighbouring property meetings
o Patnership engagement
o ACB participation
o Gouldian Finch assets and threats identified


Short term
o Traditional Owners and their families aware of fire context of the East Kimberley
o Property managers have a skilled and informed team of Rangers to assist with fire management at the property level
o Participation in ACB strategic breaks program
o Traditional owners aware of Gouldian Finch habitat
o Kija Rangers are skilled in Gouldian Finch survey methodologies
o Capacity in fire management implementations has increased
o Research partnerships in management have increased

Medium Term

o Ha of unplanned fires reduced over properties
o Gouldian Habitat mapped over property boundaries
o Gouldian population estimates extrapolated
o Carbon abatement estimations calculated

Long term
o Improved Rangeland condition
o Carbon trading opportunities sustain works program
o Ranger teams informed and skilled in fire management and threatened species work

Budget request from NRM Rangelands

Year 1 $99,610
Year 2 $ 60,700
Year 3 $60,300


The KLC in partnership with DAFWA were involved in a well resourced project Integrated Natural and Cultural Resource Management (INCRM) project from 2004 – 2007 . The aim of this project was to detail the natural and cultural resources of Violet Valley Aboriginal Reserve (Baulu – Wah ) and Bow River Station (Juwaliny). In the course of the 3 years engagement with Kija Traditional owners a strong relationship was established. Property managers identified their current and future needs. Two land use options reports with accompanying maps were produced detailing their aspirations. . Each community identified the 3 outstanding land use options they wished to pursue in the future. The KLC – LSMU has pursued the natural and cultural resource management objectives in fire and cultural site management. It is intended that this position build on the solid body of knowledge collected and recorded in the past 3 years and develop the knowledge set and skills of managers to participate in wider regional Caring for Country initiatives in development across the Kimberley.

Objectives of project
• To implement a coordinated, regional approach to fire management for the benefit of biodiversity, cultural and production values. The focal area to be targeted by this project initially is predominately a group of adjacent Indigenous pastoral lands in the east Kimberley, totaling an area of approximately 1.8million hectares (18 000km2)
• To effectively engage with property managers to insure complete ownership of the project and sustainable fire management into the future
• To monitor the outcomes of the project through satellite fire scar mapping and scientifically robust biodiversity surveys
• To communicate the result of the project to east Kimberley stakeholders and the broader community
• To progress a carbon economy project for the region to insure long term financing for fire related projects
• To create a skilled and informed Ranger group to undertake fire and gouldian finch operations.

How the project will work
• The project is coordinated by the Kimberley Land Council Land and Sea Management Unit, with support from WWF-Australia. An east Kimberley fire coordinator will be employed over the 3 year period. The position will be based in Kununurra or Warmun.
• The East Kimberley fire coordinator will be a KLC employee, and will report to the KLC Land and Sea Management Unit Manager and the Flagship Species Coordinator from WWF Australia.
• KLC and WWF have agreed to jointly:
o Develop the position description
o Undertake the interview and selection process
o Develop the annual work plan
o Undertake the 6 monthly performance review of the position
o Work together to secure operational funds for the position
• Funding has been secured by WWF-Australia for wages for the fire coordinator for a period of 3 years, starting in July 2008
• The project will be overseen by a steering committee, initially consisting of the managers and Traditional Owners of participating properties and the Manager of KLC LSMU ,the Flagship Species Coordinator WWF Australia and a member of the Kimberley Aboriginal Reference Group, but will expand to include supporting partners.

Outline of East Kimberley Fire Coordinator duties

• Finalisation of properties to be involved for the first fire season (early 2009). Properties identified in preliminary discussions are the Indigenous pastoral properties of: Bow River, Violet Valley, Doon Doon, Durack River and Karunjie. These properties have been chosen because they; adjoin the current Ecofire project boundary, have important conservation values (eg. Gouldian finch habitat), recently have been experiencing more severe fire events than other properties in the east Kimberley, and Traditional Owners have had some level of involvement in past fire work. It is anticipated that the fire coordinator may also support fire management on other properties (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) once the project is initiated.
• Establish an advisory committee made up of Traditional Owners and managers of the properties in focus area. Committee to expand to also include supporting partners as project evolves (eg. NRM, FESA, DEC).
• Build linkages with other Kimberley fire practitioners through attending Ecofire steering committee meetings as one of the KLC representatives. Assist Ecofire project with engagement of indigenous property owners.
• Fire management planning and review workshops with participant pastoral managers and ranger groups.
• Implement early dry season fire management through on-ground foot walk operations with Traditional Owners, managers and Ranger groups, and in addition coordinate strategic aerial control burning across all participate properties.
• Monitoring and evaluation of key sites within each property. A key component of this is to coordinate a scientifically robust monitoring program for the Gouldian finch (a key indicator species for ecologically sustainable fire regimes) in focus area. This includes training of property managers in monitoring methodologies.
• Teaching participant properties how to access and use internet fire tools
• Attending regional fora on fire and threatened species conservation
• Manage GIS and mapping products.
• Become a key correspondent in the discussions on fire and carbon trading with relevant stakeholders eg. NAILSMA
• Responsible for communicating results to steering committee and wider audience on the projects activities and effectiveness in improving fire regimes for both biodiversity and production.
• Attracting research partnerships
• Assist in the coordination of ACB burning on Balanggarra lands to the north
• Identifying and establishing a Kija Ranger group from the initial 3 properties in Kija lands in partnership with TAFE, JobFutres and Warmun CDEP.

Basic Budget Outline

• Funding has been secured through WWF-Australia for wages for the east Kimberley fire coordinator for a period of 3 years, starting in July 2008 ($80 000/yr for 3 years).
• Some operations and equipment will be purchased through the KLC Working on Country program funding ($7800)
• KLC has some current funding for supporting fire work on Violet Valley ($30 000 – largely spent prior to this position starting)
• ‘Approximately $40 000 of ‘Conservation on Country’ funding, (Commonwealth funds administered through WWF) have been allocated to support land managers in the central and east Kimberley in fire and Gouldian finch work.
• Conservation on Country money will fund the Gouldian finch surveys and supplement the on-ground fire work trips until December 2009.
• A new funding partner would need to be found to contribute in year 2 & 3 to replace WWF contribution after Dec 2009.
• If Ranger development is to take place along side the program then a funding partner for this also needs to be sourced.


o Shortage of skilled labour pool for recruitment
o Single operator from the LSMU in the East Kimberley
o Inadequate resourcing for operations

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:38 pm
by ForumAdmin
We have not been happy with the lack of progress on this project which has been under the control of the WWF.

We met with the originator of this project, Mike Fidler who heads the Save The Gouldian Foundation and have reached an agreement that he will re-take charge of this project by direct meetings with the relevant local authorities in the Northern Territory to establish the project more quickly than was being done via the WWF.

His update is:

"Just to let you know, the Wyndham Shire CEO has agreed to our project
and I have meetings set up for after Xmas. We have interviewed a
scientist to do the vegetation work, but I wasn't keen on her. I think
we need to re-advertise.

It will probably take me up to 3 months to dot all the I's and T's. I
won't come back to you until EVERYTHING is set up properly!"

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:58 am
by ForumAdmin
We have received an update on the progress of this project from Mike Fidler:


Past science has concentrated on the effects of fire and cattle.
Although it is still not thoroughly understood how, there is common agreement that fire and overgrazing are the major denominators in the decline of the G and a number of other species.


Nest Box

SP + JBB have now had their nest box work published.
Quick synopsis: The scientists had noticed competition between Longtail Finches and the G. This indicated there was a shortage of suitable nest holes. This was contrary to work published by other scientists [ one claiming there was only a 4% utilisation of available holes]
This therefore spawned 3 pieces of research"
1: Captive experiment to prove or disprove that G numbers could be affected by competition with LTs for nesting sites.
100 pairs of each were placed in cages with a removable divide.
LTs one side, G on the other. Both species were given nest boxes. Once the birds began to breed, the divide and one nest box was removed creating competition for the remaining nest box.
No prizes to guess who won by 100%!
2: This led / + leads to the next projects. What criteria determines what is a suitable G nesting hole. Over 500 nests were measured to determine a specification.
500 artificial nest boxes [ sites ] were constructed and placed in appropriate habitats:
a: to test the nest hole specification
b: to test whether Gs would use an artificial nest
c: to see if providing artificial nest sites will increase G population. ie proving that lack of nesting sites is one of the factors in the decline of the G.
We are now 2 years into a 3 year project, but so far all indicators are proving the hypothesis was correct. Amazingly [to me ] there has been a high utilisation of the artificial nesting sites!


Future research emanating from above:
* the effect of fire on the recruitment of Snappy Gum.
* the effect of fire on mature trees / the availability of suitable nesting holes.
* the effect of fire on a range of grasses and different habitats
* establishing a profile / vegetation map of what determines
suitable G habitat and comparing with an area in Qld where
Gs were know to exist ie another measure of the impact of pastoralism and fire on habitat.
* Nutritional values of the various food seeds through the seasonal cycles.

Whilst there are still great gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the reasons for the decline of the G. it is already obvious that unsuitable fire regimes are playing a great part. It is not entirely understood how fire is affecting the landscape but simple comparison of fauna populations
[ including the G. ] indicates areas which are fired annually have lower numbers and lower diversity of fauna.
Some, like the G seem to be more affected than others, eg on the S. of Mornington where the fire is managed the G census was between 400 -500, in the N which is subject to annual wildfires only 1 G was counted over 7 days using 25 experienced people.
Generally, collapsed fauna populations trebled in numbers in a period of 3 years when fire was controlled. [S. Legge, AWC Mornington]

Based on the above information, AWC, partially funded by STGF established the 'ECO FIRE GROUP' now consisting of 14 contiguous properties covering approx 14,000,000 acres. Now in its second year, the group have implemented a fire management regime which has all but eliminated wild fires in the region.

The STGF aim is to instigate the management of fire across the whole of the Kimberley.

* To this effect, with the help of sponsor Exetel Pty we have partially sponsored WWF / Kimberley Land Council to form a
FIRE MANAGEMENT GROUP to the north and contiguous
with the ECO FIRE GROUP. This has yet to start but efforts to recruit a project leader continue and in the meantime STGF have offered to partner an application for a Government grant which will fund the operation. and share any information they may find helpful.

* Exetel Pty have offered to co-sponsor STGF in the establishment of an EAST KIMBERLEY FIRE GROUP.
This would be contiguous with the ECO FIRE GROUP + WWF / KLC GROUP running to the east and would mean we would then be managing fire over two thirds of the Kimberley, which would make a HUGE DIFFERENCE!

Efforts to set this up were initially frustrating as I could not get hold of Wyndham Shire CEO who was the 'lynch pin' in the exercise.
His apology has now been forthcoming. However, he felt it was more important to give Kevin time than me!
Basically, following a visit by Peter to Canberra and Kevin to Kununurra, the Gov have decided to honour a 25 year old promise to fund the second stage of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. This is exciting news for the area and will transform the local economy. K. will at least double in size, a new port will open, new roads, etc!
NB the development of the flatlands will have no impact on the G.

Following discussions with Peter Stubbs [ CEO ] I have had a meeting with the Shire Ecology Mgr and the Chief Resources Mgr.

What we decided was, all people willing, we would 'piggy back' on an existing small scale, short term scheme.

Dick Pasfield, the project leader was contacted and prove willing.
This is terrific news as it saves us a years setting up time and potentially also provides our future project leader.

Xmas and cyclonic weather in Wyndham [ 175 k winds yesterday! have now brought proceedings to a halt.

Dick Pasfield has promised to put us in the info loop in the new year, he and Katya [ Enviro Mgr ] are on holiday to end of Jan.
I am on a bird watching tour of Japan in Feb.
We have all agreed to meet in March.

The next project after setting up the EAST KIMBERLEY FIRE GROUP will be to set up the WEST KIMBERLEY FIRE GROUP. We would then have all the potential Kimberley G habitat covered.

If all was going according to plan we could then perhaps start the same exercise in NT after which hopefully someone in Qld would take the hint!!!!

Mike Fidler
Project Manager

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:25 pm
by jayday
Mod Delete

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:37 pm
by ForumAdmin
jayday wrote:FA, are these details up to date with the Gouldian Finch donations from Exetel on

They have been exactly the same for a couple of months, Exetel are still funding this project aren't they?
Yes - Exetel is funding the project at $5,000.00 a month and has met with the project manager in December as well as continuing our email correspondence.

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:19 pm
by ForumAdmin
jayday wrote:That would be nearly $60,000 Exetel has donated if the funding started last Feb along with the green power if my memory serves me right.

I support these projects all 100% - Exetel are doing the best of their actions of freedom, just keep the great funding up.
Excetel has donated well over $A200,000 in 2008 to various fauna/flora/carbon projects.

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:17 pm
by ForumAdmin
Save The Gouldian Finch - March 2009 Report

As promised, here is a very brief overview of the projects going on this year:

1. Breeding competition - James (and team) doing his last field season looking at the effect of competition from Long-tails on the breeding densities, parental care and reproductive success of Gouldians.

2. Gouldian and Long-tail aggression - Danni (honours student) looking at the aggressive response of breeding Gouldians and Long-tails to models of Gouldians and Long-tails placed at the nests during breeding.

3. Growth rates of Gouldians and Long-tails - Melissa (honours student) looking at the relative growth rates of both Gouldians and Long-tails in different environments, different competitive contexts (i.e. relative densities of Long-tails) and between natural and artifical nest sites.

4. Long-tail breeding biology - Erica (PhD student) looking at the breeding biology of Long-tails, parental care, reproductive success at different times of the year and in stick versus cavity nests.

5. Habitat requirements of Gouldians - Belinda (PhD student) starting to assess the suitability of habitats for environments, including analysing vegetation (grasses and trees), ecological parameters (e.g. presence of other bird species), geography, fire history, Gouldian history (from text and Aboriginal communities) and presence of current populations.

6. Nest box project - this project will begin in earnest this year using specifically built nest boxes in areas with breeding Gouldians and in potentially good breeding areas (but where cavities are currently limited) to determine whether we can increase breeding densities using nest boxes alone - this is part of an ongoing and long-term project.

7. Nutrition in the Gouldian - this project will look at the crop contents of adult and juvenile (in the nest) Gouldians at different times of the breeding season to assess what Gouldians are actually eating and how seed ratios change over time.

8. Juvenile survival project - this project will look at the relative survival and recruitment of juveniles from fledgling (leaving the nest) by colour banding juvenile birds in the nest and determining their movements until the end of the dry season to access dispersal and relative survival of offspring (and adults).

These are the main projects but there are other smaller components as well involved in each of them.


Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:37 pm
by ForumAdmin
Report From Mike Fidler - Save the Gouldian Founder

April 29th 2009

Just got back from the Kimberley. Unseasonably hot and humid 39C .... like
the build up to the wet. They have had a storm now and it is
apparently back to normal.

I had a successful trip, finished organising the construction of the
research centre, took some video footage for ABC TV programme
Catalyst, we apparently feature soon, and participated in the
formation of the East Kimberly Fire Group - see below.

Other than encouraging the exercise, our in involvement will be the
science input. Dr Sarah Pryke is currently in Wyndham and will put in
a proposal after she has spent time appraising the area and working
out the best approach.

Incidentally, WWF have appointed their fire manager and a scientist
and are at least making a lot of noise about doing something!!
I have a meeting with them soon and will give you an update then.


Outline Draft Strategy - Phase1
Stake Holders:
Shire of Wyndham
Local Bushfire Brigades
Ord Land & Water?
Department of Food and Agriculture?


To improve the coordination, collaboration and implementation of fire management within the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley with a view to minimising dry season wild fires, increasing the amount of unburnt vegetation patches and implementing an overall integrated fire management programme.


Improved collaboration, and the integration of science into an overall integrated fire management programme that will assist in the following outcomes-
• the restoration of heterogeneous habitats to the benefit of pastoralists by increasing cattle yield,
• increasing tourism by increasing the appeal of the country side,
• the protection of property and infrastructure,
• assisting threatened wildlife by protecting and restoring specialist habitats.

It will also substantially reduce carbon output and contribute to the reduction in global warming.

Bush Fire Advisory Committee (BFAC)
The local Bush Fire Advisory Committee has the “purpose of advising the local government regarding all matters relating to the preventing, controlling and extinguishing of bush fires, the planning of the layout of fire-breaks in the district, prosecutions for breaches of this Act, the formation of bush fire brigades …….. and any other matter relating to bush fire control whether of the same kind, as, or a different kind from, those specified in this subsection” (BUSH FIRES ACT 1954 - SECT 67. Advisory committees).

Members include: The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, the state Fire and Emergency Services Authority, the Department of Environment and Conservation, and members of the Local Bushfire Brigades.

The Shire believes it is appropriate to incorporate this project within this Committee. This will initially occur through the focus on a small, local and manageable area (sub project) for which to implement a fire management program on and eventually broadening out to encompass neighbouring lands and those properties within the Shires boundaries (major long term project).

Additional meetings to the ordinary BFAC meetings will be arranged between key bushfire managers and/or project managers in order to:
1: Determine decision making + planning process + method/lines of communication
2: Identify all stake holders within the sub project boundary and gain agreement of each to participate in a cohesive joint fire plan
3. Define fire project and sub project boundaries
4. Create and outline fire plan for the sub project based on current best practise and current knowledge
5 Instigate and facilitate research into the effects of fire with a view to progressively implementing a science based fire strategy.

Fire Project Priorities
The following are all priorities of the BFAC group and will also be a main focus for the sub project:
1: Prevent late season wildfires from crossing project boundaries by installing fire breaks in appropriate geographic locations
2: Identify high fire risk zones and areas of scientific interest within project boundaries and minimise damage by implementing fire breaks/fire management plans ... discuss long term strategy of reducing the number and incidence of risk areas.
3: Create a ' Rapid Response' contingency to fight unplanned fires.
4: Implement fuel reduction and mosaic burns to current best practise
5: Identify human and physical resources required to implement the project fire strategy, quantify the costs and identify funding sources

Research Programme Priorities
1: Determine communication channels with the BFAC
2: Collate data on all fire related papers published to date
3: Determine as well as possible what research on fire related subjects is currently in progress
4: Scope a research plan to identify the effects of fire on fauna and flora
5: Identify human and physical resources required to implement the research plan, quantify the total costs and identify funding sources for the sub project.

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:51 pm
by Munka

I am planning to go ahead and support this project even though exetel has finished their contract with the fund.
Just wondering, broadly, was the decision to end exetels support a logistical one, in favour of the Sri Lanka Elephant/dairy project (which I have chosen to support)
As it seems the project remains ongoing I was just wondering before I go ahead and tithe my "hard earned"

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:06 am
by ForumAdmin
Munka wrote:Greetings,

I am planning to go ahead and support this project even though exetel has finished their contract with the fund.
Just wondering, broadly, was the decision to end exetels support a logistical one, in favour of the Sri Lanka Elephant/dairy project (which I have chosen to support)
As it seems the project remains ongoing I was just wondering before I go ahead and tithe my "hard earned"
The Gouldian Finch can benefit from all the support it can get and I still donate personally to it.

Exetel completed the funding for the program we agreed to support and the subsequent needs were beyond our ability to fund as they didn't meet the strict guidelines we set.

Exetel only funds on a specifically defined project basis where we can see agreed targets being met on a continuing basis.

Our decision had nothing to do with funding the SL project. We will not renew funding to the Southern Ark project on the same basis and have not yet received acceptable (to us) proposals for the Wadderin Sanctuary project or the Spiny Daisy project.

We have extended/increased support to the Regent Honey Eater, The Black Cockatoo and the Western Ground Parrot - and have added the SL Elephant project.

Re: Gouldian Finch Updates

Posted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:03 pm
by Munka
ForumAdmin wrote:
Munka wrote:Greetings,

I am planning to go ahead and support this project even though exetel has finished their contract with the fund.
Just wondering, broadly, was the decision to end exetels support a logistical one, in favour of the Sri Lanka Elephant/dairy project (which I have chosen to support)
As it seems the project remains ongoing I was just wondering before I go ahead and tithe my "hard earned"
The Gouldian Finch can benefit from all the support it can get and I still donate personally to it.
Excellent thank you that is good enough recommendation for me, I will go ahead.