Garrett Changes Gear on Habitat Protection and protects 250 000 hectares as a result of HSi nominations
Three threatened ecological communities nominated by Humane Society International (HSI) have finally been granted national protection by the Federal Government.
Gippsland red gum grassy woodland and associated native grasslands in Victoria, and natural grasslands of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland are now protected as Critically Endangered ecological communities, while Weeping Myall woodlands extending throughout parts of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, have been listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Both the red gum and natural grassland communities were first nominated by HSI in 1999, nearly ten years ago, when it became clear that they would not withstand continued and widespread habitat clearing. Weeping Myall woodlands were later nominated in 2003. Finally, these communities have now received the protection they need to combat the threats of persistent land clearing, grazing pressure and encroaching weeds.
“Since 2001, the protection of ecological communities under the EPBC Act has stagnated, and it is frustrating that it has taken ten years for two of these communities to receive Commonwealth recognition,” said Danielle Annese, HSI Program Manager. “However, it appears as though the importance of protecting threatened communities is now being recognised, and we are hopeful that these recent listings signal a change in momentum for national habitat protection under the EPBC Act.”
Decline in all three communities has been pervasive. At most, only 5% of the original extent of the natural grasslands and red gum communities, and 20% of the Weeping Myall community are estimated to remain.
Although highly restricted and fragmented, these communities still provide vital habitat for numerous threatened species, such as the swift parrot, spotted-tailed quoll and southern brown bandicoot.
“Australia’s wildlife is losing its natural habitats at an unprecedented rate due to human pressures,” said Ms Annese. “As habitats are degraded and destroyed, we run the risk of losing Australia’s iconic and unique fauna. The protection of ecological communities is vital to the continued survival of our plant and animal species, the sustenance of our national ecosystems and healthy water cycles, and the crucial storage of atmospheric carbon.”
A further six ecological communities nominated by HSI are currently being assessed by the government for protection at the national level.