Australia’s government announced a “zero extinctions” drive Tuesday that’ll see at least 30% of the country’s land mass reserved for conservation in order to protect threatened animals and plants.
Why it matters: “Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world,” said Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek in a statement announcing the 10-year plan to save threatened species including the iconic koala.
“Our native wildlife continues to be threatened by climate change, by natural disasters, by feral predators, and by human activity,” Plibersek said.
Details: “Based on input from researchers and experts from the community, this plan identifies 20 priority places and 110 priority species and will guide recovery actions that will benefit a broad range of threatened species and their habitats,” Plibersek said.
- That doesn’t mean the government won’t be looking to protect other threatened plants and animals, but “if we focus on those species, we create a kind of halo effect for the whole ecosystem the plant or animal is part of,” Plibersek told ABC Radio National.
- The plan will be reviewed in 2027.
Threat level: Australia has lost more species of mammal than any other continent, according to an environment report published in July.
- The number of listed threatened species increased by 8% since the last time the five-yearly report was issued.
Meanwhile, Australian animals have faced threats from a series of climate-change related extreme weather events in recent years — from deadly wildfires to flooding.
- A large swathe of the country was bracing for more flooding this week, with heavy rain forecast from the Northern Territory to the island state of Tasmania.
Of note: “The Black Summer bushfires in particular have seen devastating results for many species,” said Plibersek, in reference to the 2019-20 bushfire season that killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.
- Over 61,000 koalas were killed, wounded or displaced in the climate-change driven wildfire disaster.
- The previous government listed koalas as endangered in several parts of Australia last February due to those fires and other factors including drought.
What they’re saying: Conservationists welcomed the government’s plan, but expressed concern that it didn’t protect all species under threat.
- “Australia has more than 1,900 listed threatened species,” said WWF-Australia chief conservation officer Rachel Lowry in a statement.
- “This plan picks 110 winners. … Costed and time-bound recovery plans are essential for all threatened species. Otherwise we will see more native animals silently crossing the extinction line.”
Source : Axios