These findings are part of the ANAO report Management of Threatened Species and Ecological Communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 tabled today in the Australian Parliament.
The Invasive Species Council is calling for a major revamp of the federal processes intended to manage major threats, including the listing of key threatening processes and the preparation and implementation of threat abatement plans.
‘A few major threats – particularly invasive species, habitat destruction and adverse fire regimes – have caused the majority of extinctions and declines in Australia,’ Dr Carol Booth, Principal Policy Analyst of the Invasive Species Council, said.
‘Unless we overcome these mega-threats, hundreds more Australian species and ecological communities are doomed to extinction.
‘Even though it is widely acknowledged that Australia is in an extinction crisis, the audit has found that the government is failing to apply basic processes needed to tackle major threats to nature like invasive species.
‘One major failing identified by the audit, which compromises the entire system, is that the major threats have not even been comprehensively listed under the EPBC Act. This includes adverse fire regimes, which has been under assessment for almost 14 years.
‘One of the most damning findings is that there are no processes for determining whether Australia’s threat abatement and recovery efforts are effective, with the Auditor General finding:
There is no measurement, monitoring or reporting on progress, or on the contribution of listing assessments, conservation advice, recovery plans and threat abatement plans to their desired outcomes. Available information does not indicate desired outcomes have been achieved.
‘Other failings identified in the audit are:
- the lack of an effective process for identifying the major threats for listing;
- the failure to apply criteria required under the EPBC Act for decisions about whether a threat abatement plan should be prepared;
- the failure to meet statutory timeframes for reviewing threat abatement plans and reviewing decisions to not have a threat abatement plan (none of the threat abatement plans for 12 key threatening processes was reviewed in the required timeframe); and
- a lack of performance measures for threat abatement.
‘With almost 2,000 species listed as nationally threatened, it is not feasible to save them all while invasive species and other major threats run rampant.
‘Implementing the recommendations of the Auditor General should be a high priority for the Australian Government, reflected in a major boost in conservation funding in the upcoming Australian budget,’ Dr Booth concluded.
Dr Carol Booth, 0448 868 984