Friends call for bird sanctuary

An Eastern Osprey at Alfred Cove. Photo by Melissa Zappelli

A MELVILLE group is calling for a bird sanctuary in Alfred Cove “without delay” – but the local council has stressed the need for community consultation before any plans are approved.

The sanctuary, proposed by the Friends of Melville Bird Sanctuary, would include Alfred Cove, Troy Park, crown land at Tompkins Park, and Quarantine Park. It is home to over 142 species of bird, many of whom fly over 12,000km to reach the Swan River mudflats each year. 

“We already have the support,” says FMBS member Jenny Christenson. 

“We have backing from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, who co-manage the land with the City of Melville. We have support from BirdLife WA, and from the Swan Estuary Reserve Action Group.” 

Backing

Tom Lubin, another FMBS member, chips in: “And most importantly, we already have the backing of the community.”

This is the latest chapter in a long struggle to make the project a reality. FMBS was set up in 2018 to fight the proposed Melville wave park. Its petition to “protect Alfred Cove” garnered 2562 signatures before the wave park plan fell through in May of last year. 

Melville council has not rejected the project, says CEO Martin Tieleman, but needs to consult with various stakeholders. These include traditional owners, residents, and groups that use the foreshore. 

 “We are very aware that the community values the foreshore area so we are excited to begin engagement as soon as we are able and to co-design the area with them,” Mr. Tieleman told the Herald. 

Much of the proposed area is already protected as A-Class nature reserve and marine park. However, FMBS insist that establishing a bird sanctuary would increase awareness and allow better joint membership. 

For Ms Christenson, the green light for the project can’t come soon enough. “We have to protect these birds,” she says. “We don’t believe that we should wait any longer – and neither should the city.”

Bicton Labor MLA Lisa O’Malley backs the project.

“The establishment of a Bird Sanctuary at Alfred Cove would enable a greater level of protection of this ecologically significant area, I congratulate the Melville Bird Sanctuary organisers and supporters for the tremendous work they are doing towards achieving this outcome,” Ms O’Malley said.

“I welcome and support increased protection of vital migratory bird feeding grounds at Alfred Cove.”

“We’re blessed to have such an abundance of birdlife at Alfred Cove, and establishing a bird sanctuary will further help to protect and preserve public natural space for both people and birds to enjoy for future generations.”

by LOTTIE ELTON

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