05 October 2007

Dog-walking in Bushland Degrades Biodiversity

Operation suburban storm
Australia's growing population sprawls into 'nature', not because they like the 'bush', but it
is a cost-effective way 'to get away from it all'. They take their unsustainable cultural luggage with them to not miss out on that sub-urban feeling. The unpacking happens, but on a bigger scale. First they create tabula rasa in the 'wide open spaces'. After that, the packages of McMansions, hummers, pets and lawn monoculture gets unrolled. 'Operation suburban storm' is the annihilation of Australian animals and plants. Should any creature survive this invasion, then the next growing together of the frontier settlements would run them out of a home. In no time the human settlements take up all the land-scape and resources. Destroying what is unique about Australia
The refuges for wildlife are fast disappearing in Australia. But even the 'protected' areas are being conquered and annexed for suburbia with a vengeance. From Manly to Byron Bay to all-over the wildland-urban interface is a battle zone where Australian wildlife is eradicated. One main cause for the ecological vandalism is the anti-social behaviour of dog owners, walking their foreign animals in the last reserves for Australian creatures. There
is an abundance of signs, but very little enforcement is taking place all over NSW. It seems to be tolerated that the suburbs just annex 'their bush' as their dog loo.

Vested bestial Interests
Being one of the largest pet owning communities per capita with substantial commercial interests backing it, this is a veracious force. Americans spend $41 billion p.a. on their pets, “ more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world.” One could only guess, that Australia is not far behind. Locals consuming their 'annexed' “wilderness” hits a 'blind spot' with its guardians.

Some consume all the land-scape
Dog owners consume and degrade parks & reserves and deprive others of their enjoyment. It would be interesting to quantify the economics of this 'local consumption only' and compare it to the loss of the eco-tourism industry, even locals and visitors who would also like to immerse themselves in a green space, rich in bio-diversity. The canine community lobbies to not be 'restricted' from areas, where in fact it is them that deny the existence of wildlife or of visitors enjoying what they came for - wildlife.The loss of biodiversity is price-less (so far).
Study: Dog walkers degrade Australian Bush

New research has found that “Dog-walking in bushland significantly reduces bird diversity and abundance...We show that dog walking in woodland leads to a 35% reduction in bird diversity and 41% reduction in abundance, both in areas where dog walking is common and where dogs are prohibited...The effect occurs even in areas where dog-walking is common and where they are prohibited, indicating that birds don’t become accustomed to continued disturbance by dogs. This evidence clearly supports the long-term prohibition of dog-walking from sensitive conservation areas...Ground-dwellings birds appeared most affected: 50 percent of bird species observed in control sites were absent in dog-walked sites. The effect of dog-walking was most pronounced in the area immediately adjacent to the site where dogs were walked...There were 76 fewer birds within 10 metres of the trail when dog-walking occurred compared to control sites, suggesting birds were seeking refuge away from the immediate vicinity of threat." (Peter Banks and Jessica Bryant, Four-legged friend or foe? Dog walking displaces native birds from natural areas.)
Unchecked dog epidemic in Manly threatens rich biodiversity
The overabundance of dogs in Manly and the anti-social behaviour of their owners degrades the refuges of native animals (and plants), but also robs bushwalkers of their rights to experience these places unhassled.
Some of Manly's unique residents such as the Little Penguin, ground dwelling and flight-less, the Bandicoot and many others are too often killed by dogs.

Let's keep Manly special and unique, and effectively protect our rich green areas from irresponsible vandals.

On the Annexation of National Parks on the Cheap
Extinction and a world full of poodles
Leave some of Manly as Penguin habitat
ASBO,Dogs allowed to savage
When Rangers knock off...
More interesting reading on Manly ecology by Dr. Banks et al
Do Australian small mammals respond to native and introduced predator odours? BENJAMIN G. RUSSELL, PETER B. BANKS (2007)
"Introduced predators such as foxes and cats are twice as deadly as native predators to Australia’s unique native animals."

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