The 2023 Bird of the Year, the critically endangered Swift parrot, has been dealt a much-needed lifeline as Tasmania’s Supreme Court handed down an injunction to halt logging of its critical breeding habitat.


Led by the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF), the appeal was heard in court on Monday, with the decision handed down Wednesday afternoon.

On the ruling, Bob Brown said ‘This is a huge win for Tasmania’s forests and wildlife’. But the fight doesn’t stop there.  ‘It is the first of a rolling series of challenges to the destruction of our heritage forests. This is both gratifying and a terrible indictment of the state and federal governments’, Brown said.


Bob Brown Foundation at Tasmania's Supreme Court.

Campaigner Erik Hayward, Campaign Scientist Charley Gros, Solicitor Roland Browne, Barrister Adam McBeth, and Bob Brown | Photo by Jenny Weber

Why was logging stopped?

The BBF’s interlocutory injunction to halt logging was taken out against Forestry Tasmania, Forest Practices Authority and the Forest Practices Officer, who were ‘hell-bent’ on logging coupe KD022C, west of Geeveston in lutruwita/Tasmania’s south. An interlocutory injunction is the legal term a court ordering that someone must do, not do or stop doing something after hearing evidence on the matter.  In this case, the logging has commenced in coupe KD022C, and thanks to this ruling, must pause a full hearing is conducted, and a judgement delivered.

Before logging commenced, there were sightings of the critically endangered Swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) in the area. Subsequent surveys conducted by BBF scientists recorded ‘more than 30 occurrences of Swift parrots in this breeding forest, throughout the breeding season’, said BBF Campaigns Manager Jenny Weber. Scientists captured audio recordings of Swift parrots intertwined with the destructive roar of chainsaws.


Bob Brown Foundation forest defenders protect Swift parrot breeding habitat from logging | Photo by Bob Brown Foundation

What’s next?

Whilst the injunction remains in place, heavy machinery remains parked at the site, ready to tear down native trees and vegetation at the orders of Forestry Tasmania. But the BBF’s legal battle is far from over; if the court upholds the injunction, there’s a case to be made against those who ‘have plundered this native forest illegally’, suggests Brown.

What makes the Swifty special?

In 2023, the Swift parrot was voted Guardian’s Bird of the Year, thanks to the campaigning of many environmental groups wanting to use the opportunity to raise awareness about the uncertain future of the world’s fastest parrot. Habitat destruction is responsible for the critically engaged status of the Swift parrot, which breeds in Tasmania during the summer and migrates north to the mainland to feed during winter.

‘The Swift parrots’ precarious proximity to extinction is a result of this continuous logging of habitat. Logging that occurs without public scrutiny’, said Weber.


Swift and stylish! | Photo by Ramji for Bob Brown Foundation

Insufficient Environment Laws

The Supreme Court appeal coincided with a report released by the Bob Brown Foundation titled ‘Logging Swift Parrots to Extinction‘, which presents clear and comprehensive scientific records and data outlining the ongoing vulnerability of the Swift parrot if governments continue to mismanage environmental protection laws and habitat conservation.

A Win for the Forests

Yesterday’s decision spurred rapturous joy from the Foundation’s supporters, with comments on the celebratory Instagram post thanking the BBF for its tireless work. One of the stand-out sentiments was the idea that this ruling is a ‘step in the right direction’ as Australia’s number of threatened and endangered species continues to rise due to federal and state government-sanctioned land clearing and habitat destruction.

Despite the win, there’s little time for celebration for the BBF as it fights to save another incredible species from extinction: the critically endangered Maugean skate. There are just two days left to save this prehistoric ray from extinction – make a submission today to #savetheskate.


Feature photo by Ramji for Bob Brown Foundation

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