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...
This year has seen Humane Society International release our landmark publication Threatened – an account of our 22 year history of campaigning for threatened species and their environments in Australia.
Critically, the book provides an assessment of the Australian Government’s threatened species policies and details a comprehensive suite of legislative and policy improvements to secure wildlife and habitat protection for the country going forward.
As recent study in Nature found, “tens of thousands of species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activities” and Australia is not immune from this global mass-extinction event. Our own species are at risk due to climate change, land clearing, marine debris and government initiatives like shark control programs that imperil the very species that are supposed to be afforded protection under our legislation.
“Extinction rates for birds, mammals and amphibians are similar at present to those of the five global mass-extinction events of the past 500 million years” – Nature, Future threats to biodiversity and pathways to their prevention, p.73 VOL 546 | 1 JUNE 2017
In the year ahead, Humane Society International will be focusing on many key areas that unfailingly raise the interest of audiences around Australia, our region and the world. First and foremost we will be holding Australia’s environment ministers to account for the threatened species they are charged with protecting under law and ensuring that they work to uphold and reinforce these laws, not undermine nor unravel them under pressure from vested interests. The places and animals we love need strong political leadership and greatly strengthened laws to withstand the next generation of threats already bearing down on our country.
There are 73 species that Humane Society International has either directly nominated for protection or been indirectly involved in protecting under Commonwealth, state or territory laws. Humane Society International 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. With species and places becoming increasingly imperilled, it is vital work we must continue apace.
In the marine realm, this includes protecting shark populations, in particular critically endangered grey nurse sharks and threatened great white sharks and hammerheads that are being negatively impacted by government control programs on the east coast, as well as protecting other marine mammals and seabirds which are frequent victims of bycatch in fishing operations, and pursuing our legal challenges to Japan’s whaling operations in Australia’s Antarctic waters.
On land, we will seek to defend and expand protection for threatened ecosystems while our battle will continue to prevent the loss of the dingo from Australian landscapes; as well as ensuring protection for persecuted and threatened grey-headed flying-foxes; and increasing the Wildlife Land Trust (WLT), Humane Society International’s private land conservation program, giving recognition to the wildlife and habitat protection efforts of hundreds of landowners over tens of thousands of hectares across the country.
Strong Commonwealth environment management and the improvement of national conservation policy and law is crucial to protection threatened species and their environments in Australia. Campaigning hard for strong next generation environment laws is top of Humane Society International’s national policy agenda, and we will continue to seek access to the courts to force effective implementation of existing wildlife law. In the coming weeks, working with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), Humane Society International will publish a model next generation `Biodiversity Act’, which will be used to try and gain legislative commitments from all political parties. The future of the nation’s wildlife and wild places remains in the balance.
The publication is not only available in hard copy, but also can be accessed digitally here.