Applying this resource for land management

A number of applications of the tool are possible, although none have been independently validated. Possible applications include:

  • 1) Creating buffer zones around bird habitat
  • 2) Assessing the potential impact of various stimuli at a site
  • 3) Controlling bird pest species


1) Creating buffer zones around bird habitat

Buffer zones are areas around important habitat that are designated off-limits to people to minimise bird disturbance. For example, if the 95th percentile of all black swan FIDs is 140 m, then excluding people from the first 140 m surrounding a wetland will minimise disturbance to this species. Buffer zones can be designated in many ways including strategically planting shrubs to prevent access to the shore, erecting fences to exclude people, or otherwise channelling people through the route of walking paths. Suggested buffers could be used in public consultation processes to act as a basis for socio-politically sustainable outcomes. Disturbance could also be mediated by prescribing which stimuli occur in particular areas. For example, cars are associated with lower FIDs than are walkers. The use of cars may therefore effectively reduce disturbance at some sites


2) Assessing the potential impact of various stimuli at a site

The tool could be used to consider the potential impact of the introduction of stimuli into an environment. In a proactive sense, the data could be combined with spatially explicit species habitat maps to determine optimal areas or “channels” where stimuli could occur, and thus could assist site planning. In this way, it is possible that the impacts (or “footprints”) of proposed developments could also conceivably be assessed.


3) Controlling bird pest species

Although we would normally be interested in minimising disturbance to birds, in the case of pest species we may be interested in maximising disturbance. For example, bird pests can be problematic on farms and at airports. Setting stimuli in place that continually disturb the pest species (for example, by placing walking tracks very close to crops) could discourage site use by the pest.


4) Codes of Conduct

Codes of conduct specify minimum approach distances to birds, thus they are essentially a mobile buffer, centred on the location of the bird. They are especially useful for birdwatchers and photographers, and empower these groups of people to minimise their disturbance of birds. FIDs can be used to specify Minimum Approach Distances.