When the Humane Society International (HSI) was involved in the original negotiations for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in the late 1990s, it promised a new era of environmental protection. The Federal Government had recognised its obligation to protect our environment at a national level and introduced...
Humane Society International (HSI) says federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s commitment to zero new extinctions is pivotal and should mark a reset of environmental policy in Australia. The Minister has also committed to protecting and conserving 30% of Australia’s land mass and announced an updated Threatened Species Action Plan with increased ambition for an additional 10 threatened species and 14 places. HSI says the new priority places are strategic choices including Australia’s top hotspots for species diversity such as WA Wheatbelt Woodlands, QLD Brigalow Country, Victoria’s volcanic plain and the Tasmanian Midlands.
In achieving the objectives, HSI looks forward to decisive policies that will end habitat destruction, escalate climate ambition and substantially increase financial resourcing for environmental protection.
Key to success will be reform of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act next year, with a strong set of National Environment Standards to strictly protect species and their habitats, as well as a substantial increase in resources. Scientists have said that $1.69 billion per year is required to tackle Australia’s extinction crisis.
Between 2000 and 2017, 7.7 million hectares of vegetation was cleared across Australia, and rates of forest and bushland destruction remain atrociously high – at an estimated 740,000 hectares a year in 2018/2019. To stop any further extinctions critical habitat must be fully protected without exemptions.
HSI Head of Campaigns Nicola Beynon said, “In the face of the declining trajectories chronicled in the 2021 State of the Environment Report, the Minister’s commitment to no new extinctions is bold and important. Australia has notoriously been a leader in species extinctions, and we thank the Minister for wanting to draw a line in the sand.
“Concerted conservation action for the 110 species and 20 places that have been prioritised in the Threatened Species Action Plan will be a life raft for significant swathes of Australia’s biodiversity.
“To be successful, stronger environmental policies will need to follow, starting with substantial new funding allocations to protect species in the upcoming budget, and the promised reform of the EPBC Act to strictly protect wildlife and their habitats across Australia.”