Stencilled images and hand-painted posters of endangered finches are being plastered around Darwin to protest plans to bulldoze their habitat.
Numbering less than 2500 in the wild and not seen outside remote areas for decades, the tiny colourful Gouldian finches began returning to the Northern Territory capital in May.
First reported by Yahoo News Australia in July, the Defence Housing Australia (DHA) Lee Point project was approved before the finches appeared, resulting in calls for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to re-evaluate the plan.
Dr Kirsty Howey, the co-director of Environment Centre NT, has spearheaded opposition to the project and is feeling “optimistic” that the Darwin community’s concerns will be heard.
“We have this bird that’s been on the endangered list for so long and now we have a resurgence,” she said.
“It would be a particularly bad look if the first thing we do is bulldoze their habitat."
Government acknowledges Darwin community's concern
Works are now scheduled to commence in a matter of weeks and Minister Plibersek’s office is yet to respond to requests by Yahoo News Australia for comment on whether she will intervene.
After questions were referred to her department, a spokesperson confirmed it is “considering all available information in relation to this matter”, adding the minister has also “received feedback from the community”.
“The department is aware that the next stage of this development is scheduled to commence in the coming weeks and is actively working with (DHA) to assess the implications for the project,” they said.
Warning for Darwin amid 'ecosystem collapse'
Dr Howey said the DHA project is just one of many that threaten to turn the Northern Territory into an “obliteration zone”.
She has campaigned against plans to open the Beetaloo Basin for fracking and the expansion of the cotton industry.
“There’s been a 300 per cent increase in land clearing in the Territory over the last four years against a backdrop of ecosystem collapse,” she said.
“It is like the Northern Territory is being sacrificed for the ambitions of the federal government and the Territory government.”
“If they can't save its population of Gouldian finches that have completely galvanised the community, almost like no other issue, then you really got to wonder.
“It shouldn't be that hard to save this habitat.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.