The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC ACT 1999). It is also a listed value of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area and National Heritage Place, meaning conservation of the southern cassowary is of national environmental significance. As a result, an action that is likely to have a ‘significant impact’ on the southern cassowary requires approval from the federal environment minister. So how do land holders determine if an action will have a ‘significant impact’?
Firstly, landholders should find out if their property falls within the known range of the southern cassowary. They can find this information here.
Secondly, landholders should determine if the habitat on their property is likely to be utilised by cassowaries. Although cassowaries live in tropical rainforest, they also forage in a number of other habitat types including mangroves, melaleuca forests, eucalypt woodlands, swamps and swamp forests. Cassowaries rely upon a year-round supply of fleshy fruit, and these habitat types provide crucial food resources at particular times of year (e.g.: after cyclones).
If an area is likely to be utilised by cassowaries, the sensitivity, value, and quality of the habitat must be determined. This is dependent on a number of specific habitat features including food, water, breeding habitat, resting habitat, and corridors for movement. These factors must be considered in conjunction with the intensity, duration, magnitude, and geographic extent of the impact, which will determine whether or not an impact is classified as ‘significant’. Actions that are likely to significantly impact the cassowary include habitat clearing, habitat degradation, and actions that result in increased exposure of cassowaries to roads, traffic, humans and dogs. More specific information on this can be found here.