Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003
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Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Delia Lawrie
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Ecological Society of Australia Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 90 Dam et al. (2000). Toads that aggregated around permanent water in the dry season were nutritionally stressed, which may indicate food shortages. Other insectivorous species that are also dependent on the resources around permanent water may therefore be disadvantaged, including small reptiles and birds (Alford, pers. comm.). REFERENCE van Dam R., Walden, D, Begg, G. 2000. van Dam RA, Walden DJ & Begg GW 2002. A preliminary risk assessment of cane toads in Kakadu National Park. Scientist Report 164, Supervising Scientist, Darwin NT. RECOMMENDATIONS The Ecological Society of Australia is convinced that extreme impacts of cane toads are certain for some species, and likely for many others. ESA acknowledges that the fauna of the Northern Territory is a national asset because it is relatively intact compared with southern and eastern Australia. In view of the expected impacts on some species, and uncertainty in the possible impacts on many other native species we urge that the following actions be taken. ESSENTIAL AND IMMEDIATE ACTIONS 1. As a matter of urgency, establish a research program to evaluate the impact of cane toads using exclosures. A research program should include the establishment of a replicated series of fenced refuge areas ahead of the invasion front. Exclosures are essential to provide refuges for susceptible species and to experimentally determine impacts of cane toads. An experimental approach is essential to refine our knowledge of the impacts of cane toads as quickly as possible, and without the ambiguity inherent in uncontrolled monitoring. As a first step, ESA recommends that a scoping study be immediately undertaken to establish possible geographic areas that are suitable for fencing. A comprehensive examination of all areas within the expected geographic range of Cane Toads is required. This would provide a basis for weighing up costs against potential biodiversity benefits, and for designing a well-replicated experiment. The implemented design should include elements that examine the impact of creating habitat islands and active management may be needed to minimise the impacts of isolation on local populations. An assessment of the effectiveness of fence designs for excluding cane toads will also be needed. Fenced islands and toad-free offshore islands will form a complementary archipelago of refuges for toad-sensitive species. In addition, Coburg Peninsula should be immediately fenced off because this area unambiguously offers the best ratio of fence to protected-area in the Northern Territory, and is under imminent threat of Cane Toad invasion (within the next 1-2 years). 2. Develop, and enforce strict quarantine measures to protect toad-free islands and exclosures. Toad-free areas need to be carefully protected by preventing inadvertent or deliberate introduction. In addition, a toad-survey regime permitting the early recognition of quarantine breaches is essential for all toad-free refuges. Refuges without monitoring resources will be vulnerable to extensive, probably irreversible, invasion.
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