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20 November 2007 - Which Party will save Australias 20 critically endangered species?       

Which Party will save Australia’s 20 critically endangered species?

Sydney, 20th November 2007                                  
                                                                                                                         

Little under a week of electioneering remains and still neither major political party has mentioned a policy to tackle Australia’s biodiversity crisis and curb the nation’s growing list of threatened species.

Humane Society International (HSI) warns that ignoring the country’s biodiversity assets is dangerous for the economy because they provide ecosystem services that are fundamental to the health of our waterways, soils, oceans and climate, as well as heightening Australia’s international reputation as an ecotourism destination.

“Allowing species and their habitats to become threatened impoverishes ecosystems causing a loss of function that risks the health of the environments on which many economies depend. It should not be treated as a fringe issue,” said Rebecca Keeble, HSI Program Manager.

Currently, 399 animal species and 1298 plant species are listed as threatened under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, and many more species are candidates for listing.

The current Government has peppered Australia with funding for biodiversity projects but it has not always been well directed, not led to enduring results, been vulnerable to accusations of pork barrelling and has quite simply not managed to arrest environmental degradation and biodiversity loss at the scale needed.

HSI is calling for a “National Biodiversity Program” where a massive increase in federal expenditure for biodiversity protection is guided by national priorities that are cost effective and strategic, and determined by leading environmental experts.

HSI has written to the Coalition, Labor Party, the Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats seeking a response to our proposal for a National Biodiversity Program. The Democrats agree and the Greens have said it deserves serious consideration. Meanwhile, neither the ALP nor the Coalition specifically addressed the proposal in their response.

“It’s time the Coalition and the ALP outlined exactly what they are going to do in the next 3 years to comprehensively protect Australia’s biodiversity and to save the habitats of endangered species and ensure their populations recover - and how much they are willing to spend on it,” said Ms Keeble.

The final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Saturday made the dire prediction that up to 30 percent of the world’s plants and animals are at risk of extinction, while last month the Fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) assessment report, released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), highlighted the severe pressures on the world’s biodiversity, coasts and fish stocks resulting from environmental degradation.

While Parties have focused their election campaigning on climate change issues, which major party is going to save Australia’s top 20 endangered species*?  

*Note to Editor: These are the 20 critically endangered species listed under the Commonwealth EPBC Act:  Spotted Quail-thrush, Yellow Chat, Orange-bellied Parrot, Round Island Petrel, Herald Petrel, Boggomoss Snail, Dawson Valley Snail, Hairy Marron, Lord Howe Island Phasmid, Golden Sun Moth, Mitchell's Rainforest Snail, Western Swamp Tortoise, Armoured Mistfrog, Mountain Mistfrog, Christmas Island Pipistrelle, Gilbert's Potoroo, Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat, Grey Nurse Shark (east coast population), Western Trout Minnow, Speartooth Shark, Scrubtit (King Island).

A full list of HSI’s election policies and the responses from the Parties can be viewed at www.hsi.org.au





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