The interim review of the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act finds that the law is failing to address the main threats to nature and proposes a new system for tackling current and emerging threats.
“We congratulate the reviewer Graeme Samuel for his plain-speaking assessment of the major failings of the EPBC Act in the face of a declining natural environment,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.
“This review should be the catalyst for less reactive, more comprehensive responses to Australia’s growing biodiversity crisis.
“The Invasive Species Council strongly supports the proposed reforms to strengthen the abatement of major threats to nature such as invasive species, inappropriate fire regimes and habitat destruction.
“In particular, we support the initiative to develop ‘strategic national plans’ to address major threats, prioritise investment and research and ensure action occurs across all levels of government.
“Similarly, the proposed ‘regional plans’ have the potential to address cumulative impacts, key threats and build environmental resilience at the landscape scale,” Mr Cox said.
The review found that ‘key threats to the environment are not effectively addressed’ and threat abatement plans are ‘not achieving their intent and many threats in Australia are worsening’.
This is consistent with the assessments of the Invasive Species Council, Threatened Species Scientific Committee, Australian Academy of Science and other organisations.
Mr Samuel highlighted that the limited resources for implementing the Act have meant ‘the Commonwealth has retreated to transactions, rather than “leading” strategically in the national interest.’
“On the negative side, the review has failed to recommend the listing of key threats as matters of national environmental significance and doesn’t clearly link key threats to the proposed national environmental standards.
“We strongly endorse Mr Samuel’s proposals for better including Indigenous Australians and the protection of their heritage as a core concern of the EPBC Act.
“We are greatly disappointed that the federal environment minister today ruled out Samuel’s proposal for an ‘independent monitoring, compliance, enforcement and assurance regulator’. This is essential for transparent and effective implementation of the EPBC Act and to regain the trust of the Australian community in environmental regulation.
“While the federal environment minister has flagged that her government will act on some areas in the interim report, we are keen to ensure that an improved approach to strategically addressing current and emerging threats is addressed when the report is finalised in October,” Mr Cox said.
The Invasive Species Council will continue to participate in the EPBC review process, identifying positive solutions for the major threats to nature.
The Invasive Species Council is a member of the Places you Love Alliance, which has been calling for a new generation of national environmental laws.
Image: Swift parrots are listed as critically endangered in Australia. Threats include loss of habitat, predation by cats and changes in habitat due to climate change. Photo: Judith Deland | Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0