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1 April 2008 - Welcome investment in Australias National Reserve System      

Welcome investment in Australia’s National Reserve System

Sydney, 1 April 2008    

Humane Society International (HSI) welcomes yesterday’s announcement by Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, of a much needed $180 million investment into Australia’s National Reserve System.

A report from the CSIRO, also released yesterday, confirms the crucial role national parks and reserves will play to avert an impending extinction crisis as species struggle to cope with climate change. Expanding and strengthening the National Reserve System will help fortify species against this looming threat.

HSI also supports the allocation of $250,000 to identify habitat where Australian species threatened by climate change can find relative security. It will be important to ensure these refugia are given strict protection.

HSI’s Campaign Director, Michael Kennedy said that, “the injection of increased financial resources into the Australian Reserve System is well overdue. The climate change crisis highlights the need for a dramatic escalation in habitat protection activities across Australia and we strongly congratulate the excellent start the Minister has made.”

Over the last ten years, HSI has secured the listing of “climate change” as a “key threatening process” to wildlife under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995, the Victorian Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999, but no significant government response has been forthcoming.

“Ultimately,” said Mr Kennedy, “Government action to set aside more protected lands will determine the extent to which we can mitigate against the effects of climate change on our unique biological diversity.

“In addition to allocating funds to purchase new reserves, Minister Garrett has the power to bestow immediate legal protection upon a range of wildlife habitats through listing Commonwealth and National Heritage places, threatened ecological communities and critical habitats under the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. Listing habitats under the EPBC Act stalled under previous ministers. HSI challenges Minister Garrett to make up for lost time and give immediate legal protection to millions of hectares of threatened habitat across the country.”

The Minister’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee is currently deciding whether to advise the Minister to develop a Threat Abatement Plan for Climate Change as a response to it being listed as a Key Threatening Process under the EPBC Act. HSI has written to the Committee in support of a Threat Abatement Plan that is enshrined under the Act. 

HSI looks forward to working with the Australian Government with the massive challenge ahead to secure the future of Australia’s wildlife as the threat of climate change intensifies.

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