Picture two pelicans, finding water across the vast desert landscapes of Australia, in the middle of a relentless drought. They zero in on the arid centre of the continent where there is a rich green floodplain hundreds of kilometres wide – an oasis that springs to life, feeding a complex web of life, from tiny desert fish to thousands of waterbirds like themselves.
This magical place is more than just a refuge for our two pelicans. It’s part of Australia’s magnificent Lake Eyre Basin, one of the last major free-flowing river systems on Earth and home to 33 wetlands of national significance and the internationally (Ramsar) listed Coongie Lakes.
But today, this natural treasure is threatened by the shadow of 831 oil and gas wells, their roads and well pads which are built on the Lake Eyre Basin’s floodplains. These industrial intrusions pose significant risks, from altering the water flows to polluting the fragile ecosystem. Our pelicans, along with countless other creatures, could lose parts of their haven forever.
Right now, the Queensland Government is consulting the community on how to protect the rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country, a vital part of the Lake Eyre Basin. This presents a golden opportunity for us who care about this magnificent river and its floodplains to make our voices heard.
The threat of oil and gas development is particularly concerning. Fracking and the prospect of up to 1,500 more unconventional gas wells in the coming decades could spell disaster for the rivers and their rich environmental and cultural values. Now, more than ever, we must stand up for what we believe in.
The story of the pelicans is a symbol of the beauty and resilience of the Lake Eyre Basin. If we allow these developments to proceed unchecked, we risk losing not just a habitat but the very soul of our natural heritage.
You can be a part of history protecting this natural wonder forever – by sending a submission to the consultation. Together, we can ensure that the Lake Eyre Basin remains a sanctuary for pelicans, fish, river red gums and all the other extraordinary life it supports. Together, we can write a happy ending to our pelicans’ story.
Thank you for standing up for this vital cause. Please also share this call to action with friends and family. Together, we can amplify our voices against the threat of oil and gas developments and champion the protection of the Lake Eyre Basin! 🌳
Professor Richard Kingsford
Director, Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW