Charles Darwin University
Ellengowan Drive, Darwin, Northern Territory, 0909
To Whom it may concern,
Value of Casuarina Coastal Reserve for Migratory Shorebirds in Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory
The coastline of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve in Darwin’s northern suburbs is one of the most important areas for migratory shorebirds in Darwin Harbour. The stretch of beach from Sandy Creek around Lee Point and through to Buffalo Creek provides a home for up to 10,000 shorebirds of at least 20 species every year. These shorebirds breed in the northern hemisphere in northern China, Russia and Alaska and then travel through eastern Asia to Australia and New Zealand every year. The birds arrive in Australia from August and stay through the austral summer season before departing north again in March and April.
Migratory shorebirds (Charadriiformes) are protected under Commonwealth legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and under several international bilateral agreements. Australia and its territories have obligations to protect these shorebirds and the habitat that they use.
There are seven species of migratory shorebird listed with a conservation status of concern under the EPBC Act, and all seven species occur along the Sandy Creek and Lee Point beaches. Sandy Creek and Lee Point – Buffalo Creek regularly support internationally important numbers of the critically endangered
Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) and the vulnerable Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii).
A key threatening process to migratory shorebirds is disturbance from humans and dogs. Disturbances can cause birds to use energy that they would otherwise use as fat stores for migration. Increased disturbances to birds can lower the condition that birds are in and may mean that birds are not in their
best condition to migrate thousands of kilometres. It is vital that Australia provides safe havens for these birds when they are in Australia. This is an opportunity for Darwin as a global city to lead the way in shorebird protection.
I do not support increased housing near Lee Point as there is the potential that with additional housing and an increased human population at Lee Point there will be increased recreational use of the beaches and thus increased disturbances to shorebirds. We must protect these birds and the habitat that they use.
Dr Amanda Lilleyman