Australian native species are in trouble, but politicians aren’t talking about it – Advice Eating

Gang-gang cockatoos were added to Australia’s endangered species list this year. Recognition:Jayden Gunn

This trumpet call doesn’t just come from scientists. In 2018, a Senate inquiry into Australian animal extinctions found native fauna was declining and needed an independent regulator. Last year, the Federal Audit Office found that the Environment Ministry, whose budget has been slashed by 40 percent since 2013, was not achieving “desired results” in monitoring and reporting on endangered species.

Last year, a landmark review of Australia’s environmental laws by former competition watchdog Professor Graeme Samuel found urgent reforms were needed to prevent further extinctions, including the appointment of an independent Environment Commissioner. The recommendations focused on legally enforceable national environmental standards.

“Following the fundamental reforms recommended by this review means accepting the continued decline of our iconic places and the extinction of our most threatened plants, animals and ecosystems,” Samuel wrote.

University of Melbourne ecologist Professor Brendan Wintle gives the Morrison government a “zero out of 10” for its limited response to the Samuel report. “The review found strong support – all major stakeholders were present and around 85 percent agreed on how the reforms should be carried out. But the government just didn’t deliver, which is really disappointing,” he says.

Australia’s environmental protection is chronically underfunded. In 2019, research by Wintle and his colleagues found that Australia spends about $122 million annually on endangered wildlife, about 10 percent of what was spent in the United States and about 15 percent of what it took to raise it Prevent extinction and recover threatened species.

Wintle estimates that the cost of saving Australia’s listed threatened species would be around US$1.7 billion a year (for comparison, Australians spend around US$12 billion a year caring for pets). Just two days of coalition pledges (estimated at $833 million a day) would fund the restoration of Australia’s entire endangered species list for a year.

In the run-up to the elections, environmentalists have repeatedly urged Environment Minister Sussan Ley to state of the environment Report – a five-year scorecard of the state of Australia’s nature – says voters have a right to know more about the extent of the damage. But nothing was published before the start of the government’s term.

Photographer Scott Portelli won the Endangered Species category at the Australian Geographic Nature Photography of the Year exhibition in 2021 for this photo of a gray nurse shark.

Photographer Scott Portelli won the Endangered Species category at the Australian Geographic Nature Photography of the Year exhibition in 2021 for this photo of a gray nurse shark. Recognition:

people love nature

There is ample evidence that people care about Australia’s unique plants and animals. A recent poll of voters’ engagement with nature by the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 95 per cent of respondents agreed it was important to protect nature for future generations, 90 per cent agreed it is important for Australia’s economy is critical, and 80 percent said they care about plant and animal extinction.

And it’s not as if ending species extinction or reviving wildlife is an impossible dream. Research by the Invasive Species Council and other conservation groups shows there is good news: In the 2000s, thousands of albatross deaths were prevented when the government recognized the danger of longline fishing and worked with the fishing industry to improve practices. As of 2018, Australia had completed 243 successful island kills of wild species such as black rats, cats and foxes.

Wintle believes the coalition government has been paralyzed by the Nationals’ interest in ensuring farmers remain in control of land management, including clearing native vegetation, although he notes many farmers are doing a great job of restoring the environment.

The entangled relationship between the labor movement and the forest industry has also limited Labor when it comes to action on biodiversity issues, particularly logging, says Wintle.

“The first party to break free from the ideological associations of protecting biodiversity will develop policies that will change the way we do it.”

The rare gray sunbeam.

The rare gray sunbeam.Recognition:Debbie Reynolds

What’s on offer

Labor has not published an overall environmental policy. Terri Butler, shadow secretary for environment and water since 2019, said the timing of the launch was up to Labor leader Anthony Albanese. The party has already pledged $80 million for Great Barrier Reef-related projects and $200 million for urban rivers and watersheds, and announced plans to double the number of Indigenous Rangers and Indigenous Conservancies.

One of the first actions of a Labor-led government would be to provide a full response to the Samuel review, Butler says. It would release those too state of the environment Report. She describes the recommendation of the environmental and biodiversity report for an independent environmental officer as “a matter close to her heart”.

“We have a real problem in this country with a lack of compliance with environmental laws,” she says

A spokesman for Environment Secretary Ley said the coalition government had pledged an additional $6 billion in environmental spending since 2019, including $53 million for koala recovery. It would continue to control wild pests and weeds and work with local communities for practical action on the ground.

Another coalition government would also reform national environmental laws to protect the environment and increase safety, and spend $52 million on a national rollout of digital environmental assessments with states and territories to cut “green bands,” the spokesman said .

The Greens have a comprehensive policy that includes a goal of zero mortality by 2030 and investment in mass greening and restoration programs.

A corroboree frog.

A corroboree frog. Recognition:Taronga Zoo

natural costs

Business has realized there is a cost to ignoring the biodiversity crisis, says Megan Evans, a researcher at the University of NSW. Just as climate change is now understood as a risk, there is a growing awareness that the loss of biodiversity will also affect the bottom line.

These losses may include physical risks (e.g. natural disasters exacerbated by nature’s loss of coastal protection), reputational or legal risks, risks of ecosystem collapse (e.g. through loss of pollinators) or disease that affect global supply chains and material availability.

“We’ve had increasing threats to biodiversity and reduced funding over the past decade,” says Evans. “A little planting isn’t going to change that — it’s like putting glitter on a big pile of poop.”

Conservation efforts can work: The population of the critically endangered Lord Howe Island wood grouse has more than doubled to about 565 since a rodent control program was implemented on the island in 2019.

Conservation efforts can work: The population of the critically endangered Lord Howe Island wood grouse has more than doubled to about 565 since a rodent control program was implemented on the island in 2019.

What should I do?

The solutions to Australia’s biodiversity crisis already exist and will also benefit the country’s people, says Professor Euan Ritchie of Deakin University. The next government must strengthen and enforce environmental policies and laws, pay attention to First People leadership and their longstanding cultural practices, and increase environmental investment, Ritchie says.

A strong economy and happy, healthy people are fundamentally dependent on the environment, he says: “Caring for and investing in the environment is a public good.”

dr Holly Parsons, urban bird program manager at BirdLife Australia, says it was a very sad day when the gang-gang cockatoo was placed on the endangered species list. As a cold climate species that breeds at higher elevations, the gang gang will come under increasing pressure due to global warming.

But the listing also meant BirdLife was awarded around $140,000 in federal funding to gather basic information about this little-studied bird, such as: B. Migration patterns.

“It’s not going to be easy, but the fact that they’re a publicly popular species means they can be iconic,” says Parsons. “You can raise the flag for other species.”

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