Heartbreak for birds in Australia’s beating heart

Monday, 27 February 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

The red centre of Australia is brought to life by rainwaters flowing as braided rivers, nourishing dried-out wetlands across the Lake Eyre Basin. Acting like an oasis in our vast sunbaked deserts, birds are magnetically drawn to these wetlands from far and wide. Like a heart pumping, bird populations across Australia are replenished by the flow of birds in and out of this remarkable water system.

Sadly, the Lake Eyre Basin is at risk. Without strong nature laws, a major expansion of gas mining has been earmarked for these vulnerable wetlands, threatening the entire system.

Why is the Lake Eyre Basin so vulnerable to gas developments?

The Lake Eyre Basin is massive, twice the area of NSW, but it is remarkably flat. Rainwaters flow across shallow ancient channels for up to thousands of kilometers, meandering across the desert toward Lake Eyre.

Gas developments threaten water flows through the Basin’s channels, destroying wetlands downstream. In such a flat landscape, even subtle changes redirect water away from these channels, and the infrastructure built for gas projects will break these ancient flows.

Without water, the oases that birds need will remain bone dry. Without water, iconic birds like Flock Bronzewing pigeons, Budgerigars, Banded Stilts, and pelicans will become mere memories in some places. Without water, the pulse of this miraculous heart will become irregular, and won’t be able to nourish the wider populations of many birds, including migratory shorebirds like vulnerable Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and critically endangered Curlew Sandpipers.

How you can help

If Australia had stronger nature laws that protected our most vulnerable habitat, the water flows in the Lake Eyre Basin would be secure.

If you haven’t already, sign our petition calling on our Federal representatives to legislate Strong Nature Laws in 2023!

Subscribe to our fortnightly Catch Up For Nature email list to keep up to date on Australia’s threatened birds and habitats – like the Lake Eyre Basin, and how BirdLife and our supporters are giving them a voice.