Inadequate funding and weak laws undermine threatened species strategy

In response to the federal government’s Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031, released today, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature campaign manager Basha Stasak said:

“The Morrison government’s new 10-year Threatened Species Strategy is an improvement on the previous five-year plan, but unless the core issues of inadequate funding and weak laws are addressed, it will fail to deliver.

“There are significant improvements in this strategy – in particular we welcome the high-level objective on protecting priority places.

“But the forces that have made Australia a world leader in mammal extinctions are strong. Australia’s unique biodiversity, evolved over millions of years, is under threat like never before from a combination of land clearing for mining, agriculture and new suburbs, supercharged bushfires and other impacts of climate change.

“Our governments have an appalling record on protecting Australia’s unique species.

“Even some animals that are officially honoured are actually neglected. Victoria’s faunal emblem, Leadbeater’s Possum, is critically endangered. In 2015 the federal government promised ‘a revised Recovery Plan will be completed by mid-2016, driving action to turn around the decline of the Leadbeater’s Possum.’ Six years later, we are still waiting.

“Under this new strategy, funding for threatened species falls well short of what’s required.

“ACF estimates approximately $1.69 billion a year is required to genuinely tackle Australia’s extinction crisis. This is substantially more than is currently allocated to biodiversity protection in the federal budget.

“Beyond funding, we need to fix our national environment laws.

“The Threatened Species Strategy works in conjunction with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – a law the Samuel Review showed is not working.

“Without the government undertaking the reforms proposed by Professor Samuel, we won’t arrest the downward trajectory of our wildlife.

“The previous five-year strategy failed to deliver, largely because of inadequate funding and weak national environment laws. Our species can’t wait another 10 years.”

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