The Morrison Government has released a ten-year blueprint for protecting Australia’s biodiversity, establishing a national prioritisation framework for threatened species that targets a broader range of species, focusses on key native habitat, and drives the development of new technologies.
The Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 draws on the lessons of the 2019-20 Bushfires to identify and adapt to sudden threats from an increase in natural disasters, calls for a more coordinated approach to culling feral pest animals and weeds that are pushing species to extinction and plans for the deployment of new monitoring technologies including drones and environmental DNA.
In addressing adaptation and resilience, the strategy considers identifying and conserving potential future places of refuge that species might migrate to and strategies for ‘assisted colonisation’ for populations whose local environments are impacted by changing climate.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 will be the guiding light for threatened species investment including $57.1 million of new funding for threatened species.
This includes Federal Budget announcements of $18 million for targeting marine species and $29.1 million for addressing threats from invasive pests and weeds. The Minister today announced a further $10 million for an open grants round for projects tied to the release of the first action plan.
“Our human footprint, feral pests and weeds, our changing climate and biosecurity hazards present an enormous threat to a growing range of native species and this strategy is at the heart of caring for our country, for its biodiversity and for our future,” Minister Ley said.
“The new strategy identifies both species and ‘places’, with an expanded focus on the protection of a more diverse range of species, including reptiles, amphibians, freshwater species, marine species and all of the incredibly unique environments in which they are found.
“The strategy has been developed with environmental scientists, threatened species experts, environmental groups, landholders and Indigenous groups.”
National Priority species will be selected according to six prioritisation principles:
- Risk of extinction (Prioritising species and places under severe and imminent threat)
- Multiple benefits (Prioritising species and places where recovery action will benefit other species)
- Feasibility and effectiveness (Prioritising species and places where action can make a difference and is cost-effective)
- Importance to people (prioritising people and places of cultural significance)
- Uniqueness (Prioritising species and places that are unlike any other)
- Representativeness (Achieving balance in selected species and places)
The new 10-year strategy will be underpinned by two five-year action plans identifying specific targets across four direct action areas:
- Mitigating new and established threats
- Conserving, restoring and improving habitat
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Climate change adaption and resilience
The first action plan will be released after stakeholder consultation in the second half of the year, and is expected to identify up to 100 priority species and 20 places with specific targets to focus recovery actions to 2026.
“The first ever Federal Government Threatened Species Strategy (2015-20) was a ground-breaking approach to ensuring the protection of threatened species and the mitigation of threats was on the national agenda,” Minister Ley said.
“Much has been gained, from the establishment of environmental safe havens, to the creation of better technologies to control incredibly damaging pests like feral cats, improved trajectories for multiple species, and much more detailed knowledge about helping our unique biodiversity has been learned as we move forward.
"This is also a plan that will help coordinate the efforts of the Federal Government, states, natural resource managers, scientists, traditional owners and community groups.”
Over the coming months, Australians will be able to provide their input to these plans, and lend support to the selection of priority species, places and key actions.