Wilderness photographer arrested for defending rare parrot habitat

Jul 3, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Wilderness photographer arrested for defending rare parrot habitat

Jul 3, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Wilderness photographer arrested for defending rare parrot habitat

A celebrated wilderness photographer known for his stunning captures of Tasmania’s natural beauty has been arrested by authorities. Rob Blakers refused to leave a logging area in Tasmania’s Eastern Tiers, where critically endangered swift parrot habitat was being destroyed.

The Snow Hill coupe SH050B site, where logging has been ongoing for the past two weeks, has witnessed persistent protests from concerned community members determined to prevent the extinction of the world’s fastest parrot, the Swift parrot.

Blakers has spent the past three summers photographing swift parrots in southern Tasmania and the Eastern Tiers, and was deeply moved by the unique beauty and significance of the forest.

He recounts the awe-inspiring scenes in a statement via the Bob Brown Foundation, saying, “From late November 2022 until early January, I witnessed consistent gatherings of swift parrots in numbers unparalleled elsewhere. It was by far the most crucial swift parrot site in Tasmania during the 2022/2023 summer.”

The photographer elaborates, “On multiple occasions, I observed flocks of up to 30 birds, with a remarkable moment on Christmas Eve when I captured an image of 12 parrots perched in a single tree. Their calls resonated through the forest, dominating the soundscape of mornings and evenings. While I confirmed the presence of at least one nesting site, there were likely more. Swift parrots thrived in both the forest canopy and on the ground. It was an extraordinary natural phenomenon and prime habitat for these critically endangered birds.”

Disturbed by the commencement of logging activities in the forest two weeks ago, Blakers repeatedly attempted to contact Forestry Tasmania, the responsible authority, to seek clarification and express his concerns. Regrettably, his calls went unanswered, mirroring his experience from December and January when his emails regarding logging plans for the Eastern Tiers were similarly disregarded. Consequently, he returned to the forest to document the devastation firsthand.

Tragically, the southeastern section of the coupe, which teemed with swift parrots throughout the summer, has suffered extensive logging. Despite its designation as a Special Permanent Timber Production Zone, virtually all large trees have been felled, leaving only a handful of isolated older trees vulnerable to windthrow.

The shocking proximity of the fallen trees to the identified nest is a stark testament to the inadequacy of protective measures. As Blakers emphasizes, “Trees have been felled as close as 35 meters from the nest tree. The flagrant disregard for the habitat requirements of this critically endangered species is breathtaking. Logging activities at SH050B bring the swift parrot perilously close to extinction. Immediate protection of all swift parrot habitats through secure reserves is imperative.”

Erik Hayward, a campaigner from the Bob Brown Foundation, echoes Blakers’ frustration, stating, “Forestry Tasmania has consistently ignored our correspondence, which includes crucial scientific data about this coupe’s essential values. It is high time that Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek intervenes, halting forestry operations that are destroying our forests. Genuine and effective conservation efforts must be implemented to prevent further extinctions and mitigate the looming climate crisis.”

Blakers’ arrest occurred at the same spot where he had previously captured the image of the 12 swift parrots perched in a tree. Outraged by the audacity of the Tasmanian government’s logging agency, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, Blakers expressed his fury at their actions.

“How dare they?” he asked The Guardian. “How can they just so brazenly ignore all of the science, all of the advice they have received, and just go in and smash this forest?”

[Via Tasmania Times]

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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One response to “Wilderness photographer arrested for defending rare parrot habitat”

  1. Concerned Capitalist Avatar
    Concerned Capitalist

    In a war of capitalism against environmental protection, capitalism always wins.