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22nd May - Government asleep at the wheel as we hurtle towards extinction crisis - International Biodiversity Day 22 May      



22 May 2017

Humane Society International is using International Biodiversity Day to issue a wake-up call to the Australian Government on its role in the world’s sixth mass extinction event*.

International Day for Biological Diversity is marked yearly on 22 May to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues around the world.

Australia is one of 17 countries described as ‘mega-biodiverse’ which means we have a great global responsibility to avoid extinctions of our unique flora and fauna.

The conservation and animal protection charity’s Australian Head of Campaigns, Nicola Beynon, said that, “Unless the Turnbull Government undertakes a substantial new leadership role in national pro-grams to protect the more than 1,700 species and habitats listed as threatened with extinction in Australia, then, within the next few decades, Australians can look forward to iconic bushland devoid of large numbers of our treasured wild inhabitants. Australia would never be the same again.

It's all very well having a Threatened Species Commissioner and a Threatened Species Strategy on the one hand, but it's thoroughly undermined when with the other hand the Minister constantly approves actions that chip away at habitats for wildlife and diminish our biodiversity.”

Australia’s State of the Environment Report 2016, released in March, found that “the number of threatened species and threatened ecological communities has increased since 2011” in Australia, with “pressures of habitat clearing and fragmentation, invasive species and climate change” continuing to threaten the nation’s biodiversity. The report also noted that “Australia’s biodiversity is continuing to decline, and new approaches are needed to prevent accelerating decline in many species”. Pointedly, the report called for ‘national leadership’.

Nicola Beynon continued, “If the Turnbull Government does not put in place a range of essential new policies to counter the ongoing destruction of Australian native animals and plants, then it will assuredly go down in history as the government that failed to apply the brake to avoid the ecological disaster ahead.

Australia’s national environmental and management regime has been evolving since Gough Whitlam’s landmark conservation laws passed through the Parliament in the early 1970s and John Howard’s far-reaching Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 1999. With an extinction crisis pending, urgent reform is needed again to meet the challenges upon the environment today. But the current Government seems more intent on mismanagement and subversion of the protections that we do have in place.”

In its publication Threatened Humane Society International has presented Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg with a comprehensive suite of 235 policy recommendations to avert the extinction crisis in Australia.

Nicola Beynon concluded, “The Australian Government is chronically failing our threatened wild places and species. Unless Prime Minister Turnbull deploys the political will to reform and use environment laws effectively and a massive injection of funds for habitat protection and recovery programs, then there will be little doubt of Australia playing a significant part in the world’s SIXTH MASSIVE EXTINCTION event”.


- The threatened species listing process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which Humane Society International helped negotiate through Parliament, provides information about the pressures on biodiversity within Australia.

- There are 73 species that HSI has either directly nominated for protection or been indirectly involved in protecting under Commonwealth, state or territory laws. HSI has also successfully proposed the listing of 28 Threatened Ecological Communities, in Australia which provide umbrella protection for 186 threatened flora species and 94 threatened fauna species over several million hectares.

* ‘Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction’ - Science Advances, 19 June 2015 (http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253)


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