Critically endangered species and ecological communities should be afforded the strongest possible protection under Australia’s national environmental laws. Currently, inclusion of a threatened species or ecological community in the category representing the highest level of endangerment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 does little to increase the protection provided.
A new EDO Tasmania report, commissioned by the Bob Brown Foundation, outlines options to strengthen our national laws to more effectively manage the threat of extinction faced by listed species. Key reforms include:
- Streamlining assessment decisions
- Automatic ‘uplisting’ of species included on the IUCN Red List in the category of Critically Endangered
- Emergency listing powers for at-risk species and communities
- Requiring the Minister to act on advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to list a species or community as Critically Endangered.
- Commonwealth, State and Territory threatened species assessment criteria must be synchronised to allow for reciprocal recognition of assessments
- Strengthening recovery actions
- Recovery plans to be developed or reviewed within 6 months of a species or ecological community being listed as critically endangered
- Recovery plans must identify critical habitat for the species, to be entered on the Critical Habitat Register
- Recovery plans must include clear performance indicators, and the Department of Environment must report against these indicators in its annual report
- Funding programmes should prioritise proposals that will further the survival of critically endangered species
- Avoiding impacts
- Any adverse impact on a critically endangered species or ecological community, including any adverse impact on listed critical habitat, should be considered “significant”
- Requiring the Minister to follow advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee regarding proposed actions which may impact on a critically endangered species or ecological community
- Powers to vary or revoke an approval where a threatened species or ecological community impacted by an activity is ‘uplisted’ to Critically Endangered
- Extend the obligation to protect critical habitat to all land tenures
- Repeal the RFA exemption
- Remove the exemption so the Commonwealth Minister can regain control over one of the key drivers of habitat loss for critically endangered species
- Encouraging strong action by State and Territory governments
- Encourage the Tasmanian government to implement agreed restrictions on broadscale clearing on private land
- Use COAG reforms to promote implementation of best practice laws for the protection of threatened species across the country, including through planning and building laws
To read the full report, click here.