04 February, 2001

Owls of protest

Geraldine Ryan, Montmorency
The Age (letter), 4/2/2001

I was about to turn the page of The Sunday Age (21/1) when this line caught my attention: "If those owls are so powerful, how come they need protection?" In a few words, the answer is loss of living space.

The largest Australian owl, Ninox strenua, with the large, brilliant- yellow eyes and penetrating voice that reaches far through the forest, is now considered endangered.

 At the heart of this situation is loss of its forest habitat. Victoria, for example, has lost 65 per cent of its forest cover and even more of its tall woodlands in a very short time. Most of these trees would have been old, hundreds ofyears old. Powerful owls, which mate for life, require old trees with large hollows in which to raise their young. For food, they can need more than 1000 hectares a pair.

The owls need protection from the immensely destructive clearfell logging method that destroys their hollow-tree homes and food sources. No matter how "powerful" a creature is in a balanced and intact ecosystem, it will have difficulty if the system on which it depends is destroyed.

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