Global superstar Leonardo DiCaprio has called for an end to native forest logging in Australia to protect the habitat of the critically endangered swift parrot.

The Hollywood actor and conservationist highlighted the plight of Guardian Australia’s bird of the year, telling his 62 million Instagram followers that destruction of the parrot’s breeding habitat in Tasmania continues, despite experts estimating just 750 swift parrots remained in the wild.

“The Australian government has promised that it will prevent any new extinctions. Conservationists continue to encourage them to uphold their zero extinction commitment,” DiCaprio wrote.

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“The only way to protect the swift parrot, and hundreds of other threatened Australian forest species, is to end native forest logging across Australia and Tasmania.”

The swift parrot is a migratory species that spends winters in Victoria and New South Wales and summers nesting in forests scattered across the island state of Tasmania depending on where its main food sources, blue and black gums, are flowering.

A CSIRO-published guide in 2021 estimated the population had slumped to about 750, down from 2,000 a decade ago. Peer-reviewed studies have found it could be extinct in 10 years if no action was taken to improve its protection, and that forestry is the greatest threat to its survival.

Recent research by scientists at the Australian National University found the rate of decline was accelerating and without drastic conservation action there could be a mean population of just 58 birds by 2031.

DiCaprio’s post pointed to last week’s court victory for the Bob Brown Foundation which secured a temporary injunction on logging in an area of forest south of Hobart.

Re:wild, a conservation organisation backed by DiCaprio, brought the swift parrot’s decline and the court case to the actor’s attention.

“Leonardo DiCaprio has put Tasmania on the map big time, and the plight of the swift parrot is now well and truly global,” Bob Brown said.

“We are delighted to see Leonardo’s full endorsement of our campaign to end native forest logging and save the critically endangered swift parrots. We are inviting Leonardo to Tasmania to see this beautiful island, its forests and wildlife for himself.”

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Brown said last week the foundation was “taking on what we believe is the illegality of the destruction of rare species habitat across Tasmania”.

The foundation has launched similar challenges to logging in swift parrot habitat in forest in other parts of the state.

The federal environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, said that like everyone, she wanted to see swift parrots thrive for generations to come.

“That’s why last year I released the national recovery plan for the swift parrot to protect and revive this iconic species,” she said.

“And it’s why we are reforming our laws to ensure that native forest logging is regulated by national environment laws for the first time ever.”

Plibersek said the government was spending half a billion dollars on saving native species and eradicating feral animals, including specific programs for the swift parrot.

The Tasmanian government was asked for comment.


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