News - 08 August 2018

Background to Australia’s extinction crisis

What is the problem?

  • Australia is one of the world’s megadiverse countries and most animals found in Australia are only found in Australia.
  • We have a responsibility to protect our unique animals for their own sake and for future generations.
  • Australia should be a world leader in conservation—we have world-class expertise and the majority of Australians support strong protections for our unique wildlife.  
  • Sadly Australia has the worst record in the world for mammal extinction and is number four in the world for other extinctions.
  • Three unique Australian animals went extinct in the last 10 years alone.
  • A recent study found that, unless management improves, Australia stands to lose another 10 birds and 7 mammals by 2038.

Why is this happening?

  • Commonwealth environmental legislation, especially Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC), is simply not up to the task of preventing the decline and extinction of Australia’s threatened species.
  • There is little evidence that the state or trend of most threatened species is improving.
  • There is no evidence we are stopping major threats to threatened animals, and some threats like the loss of their habitat have increased over the last 5 years.
  • Australia is now the only country in the world with a deforestation front.
  • The Australian Government’s own State of the Environment 2016 Report found that national leadership and collaboration is required to address threats to species and biodiversity.

How can we stop it? 

We call on the Australian Government to end extinction of Australia’s unique wildlife.

To achieve this the Australian Government must:

  • Protect wildlife habitat by ending land clearing and logging of old growth and high conservation value native vegetation.
  • Prioritise protection of critical habitat for endangered animals under law and via expansion of the National Reserve System to ensure all Australian ecosystems are adequately protected.
  • Overhaul our national environment laws and the creation of strong and independent institutions to ensure the laws are implemented and environmental outcomes are significantly improved.
  • Ensure that, at a minimum, all endangered and critically endangered animals have science-based recovery plans that are enforceable, well-resourced and require climate impact assessment for species and its critical habitat.
  • Ensure that threatened species and habitat protections are integrated with planning.
  • Commit to prompt, transparent and regular (minimum annual) release of data on the state and trends of threatened species, state and impacts on critical habitat of threatened species and outcome-focused monitoring of species conservation efforts and spending.
  • Take its responsibility to global conservation efforts seriously and align our species conservation efforts with our international obligations, including Aichi Target 12.