‘We’re part of the solution’: that was the 2021 theme for World Biodiversity Day, celebrated on 22 May. It’s also true of the work Avisure does in cooperation with airports in Australia and internationally. Avisure is proud that, not only does their wildlife hazard management expertise help airport operators to make their airports safer, but it often also has a direct and positive impact on the biodiversity of native plant and animal species at these sites.
Airports offer food, water and shelter for wildlife, and can therefore be attractive habitats for feral animals such as European brown hares, rabbits and red foxes, as well as feral cats. Hares, rabbits and foxes are the source of several potential aviation problems. Foxes pose a direct risk of damaging aircraft strike; and introduced animals such as rabbits and hares attract predators—foxes and wedge-tailed eagles—in turn adding to the strike risk.
Consequently, airports must actively manage the feral species to mitigate the risk to aviation operations. This wildlife hazard management also benefits biodiversity. ‘Foxes and feral cats have been identified as known or perceived threats to 34 and 38 native species respectively in threat abatement plans under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC).’ Not only do foxes and feral cats affect biodiversity, threatening the survival of many native species in Australia, but rabbits do as well. They have been identified under the EPBC as a ‘key threatening’ presence because of two factors—their grazing, which creates food competition with native species; and their burrowing, which leads to land degradation.
Avisure works with metropolitan, regional and rural airports to assist them in successfully implementing wildlife hazard management plans, thereby reducing feral animal populations. A win for aviation safety and for biodiversity.