Mammal Action Plan to guide Threatened Species Commissioner
Humane Society International (HSI) welcomes today’s announcement by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt of the first Threatened Species Commissioner for Australia, with Gregory Andrews being tasked with enhancing conservation efforts for Australia’s endangered native flora and fauna.
“HSI is encouraged by the appointment of a Threatened Species Commissioner, but they must have sufficient autonomy and power to undertake what are bound to be some drastic measures to arrest the unacceptable decline of Australian species,” said HSI Program Manager Evan Quartermain. “There is no quick and easy solution to the problem, and to make any worthwhile difference the Commissioner must have considerable resources at his disposal.”
In its submission on the Commissioner’s appointment HSI proposed the establishment of an advisory panel to guide priorities, and is enthused to see this implemented through the announcement of the first four members of the Ministerial Council on the Environment. “The new national focus on Australia’s endangered fauna and flora is critical, and we fully support the development of top species priority actions by the new expert advisory team. HSI also supports a review to improve the effectiveness of statutory species recovery processes,” said Mr Quartermain.
The appointment was announced at the launch of the Action Plan for Australian Mammals, a CSIRO publication funded by the Commonwealth and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and authored by prominent Australian scientists John Woinarski, Andrew Burbidge and Peter Harrison - a seminal publication that will ably guide the new Commissioner and the expert advisers in determining required national priority recovery actions. The Action Plan paints a dire picture of the impacts of previous Australian conservation efforts, and clearly shows innovative approaches are required to arrest this shameful decline.
While the creation of the Threatened Species Commissioner role is a positive reaction to the release of the report, and HSI looks forward to working with Mr Andrews towards his important goals, the Government’s ongoing efforts to devolve national environmental laws will likely work against this initiative.
Mr Quartermain concluded that, “While HSI welcomes any new and worthwhile initiatives to improve the chances of recovery for Australia’s ever lengthening list of threatened species, the Coalition Government’s continued pursuit of the devolution of its national environment powers to the states and territories will simply lead to increasing threats to our endangered animals and plants, making the new Commissioner’s job extremely difficult indeed.”