Our wildlife needs strong laws

Australia’s environment is facing one of its toughest periods. The combined threats of habitat destruction, drought, bushfires and more means that Australia’s wildlife is facing an extinction crisis. Thousands of Australian species are threatened with extinction right now—and the list keeps growing. 

It is clear that stronger laws are required if we want to protect the wildlife we have and to avert further loss. Australia is not alone in this challenge and a recent panel of experts convened by the United Nations identified the need for ‘transformative change’ to tackle the global extinction crisis. 

Australia’s federal environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), is the national law responsible for protecting and HSI has been engaged in this law for many decades.  In 1999 it was a substantial advance on the laws it replaced, but it is no longer up to task. State and territory laws also continue to allow the clearing of precious habitats and destruction of native wildlife.  

The threats faced by our natural environment have grown dramatically, and we now need stronger laws to protect Australia’s wild animals and places. 

 

What HSI is doing

HSI is doing our utmost to ensure we have the strongest possible environmental laws in place to protect wildlife and their habitats across Australia. 

 

Laws that protect nature 

The federal EPBC Act does not deal well with cumulative impacts, resulting in many species and ecosystems that are supposed to be protected suffering their demise by a thousand cuts. These laws contain too many exemptions and rely too heavily on ministerial discretion. This mean that short-term political interests all too often override environmental interests. The EPBC Act also does not mandate recovery action for Australia’s growing list of threatened species, meaning only a lucky and diminishing few ever get to benefit from a recovery plan. 

HSI, working with lawyers at the Environmental Defenders Office, has developed a series of papers setting out the federal legal changes needed to protect wildlife and their habitat: 

HSI is also a co-founder and active lead member of the Places You Love alliance. Through this alliance we work together with colleagues in the environmental sector in support of national environment laws that demand strong leadership from our federal government and empower independent institutions that provide oversight free of political interference and properly protect and recover threatened species and their habitats. 

 

Protecting wildlife in your state 

In many cases state and federal policies intersect so it is essential that state and territory governments also have strong environmental legislation in place.  

HSI takes every opportunity to engage in the improvement of environmental decision making at the state level, particularly when it involves inhumane treatment of animals. One such example is our fight against state issued permits which licence the needless killing of thousands of native animals.  

Currently HSI is working hard on the review of the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975 to ensure this legislation is modernised to reflect contemporary views. Our joint publication with Environmental Justice Australia, Failing our wildlife, published before the commencement of the independent review, sets out key problems with the legislation and facilitates improved outcomes for Victoria’s wildlife.  

Together, we can make a difference for our native species.

We need your help to stand up for nature, and let governments know that you want them to address the extinction crisis through the implementation of stronger environment laws. You can help us by writing to your Federal MP and Senator to call for stronger national environment laws.

Take action for nature

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