Our Work

To protect what is most distinctive about Australia, the nature of Australia, we need to address the threats facing facing our most vulnerable native species.

Our Work  |  Threats to nature

Threats to nature

If Australians are to protect what is most distinctive about this country – our unique plants, animals and ecological communities – we need an ambitious, systematic, well-funded and nationally coordinated threat abatement system.

Since European colonisation Australia’s wildlife has been besieged – by voracious new predators, largescale habitat destruction, dramatically intensified or suppressed fire patterns, dominating new herbivores and aggressive weeds, intensive exploitation of water, forests and oceans and, more recently, a rapidly changing climate.

The consequences are dire – averaging at least five extinctions a decade, Australia has lost more than 100 unique species. Thousands more are greatly diminished and declining, with close to 2000 species listed as nationally threatened.

It is not possible to recover all of our threatened species one by one through species-focused efforts. We also need a concerted national focus to overcome the major threats our native plants and animals have in common.

This will also safeguard many other species not yet recognised as threatened, help recover environmental health, and benefit industries like agriculture and tourism.

A failing system

Australia already has a national system for responding to threats to nature. Under the EPBC Act, the Australian Government can list ‘key threatening processes’ and prepare ‘threat abatement plans’.

This should be one of Australia’s most powerful mechanisms for protecting biodiversity – for stopping extinctions, preventing the decline of more species, and returning ecosystems to health and resilience.

The benefits of a strong threat abatement focus have been demonstrated. The seabird bycatch by longline fishing has dropped from many thousands of albatrosses and petrels a year in the 1990s to fewer than 50, as detailed in our case study. Another success has been the eradication of invasive animals from many islands, creating safe havens for threatened wildlife and breeding seabirds.

But for most threats the system is failing – the 21 threats currently listed under the EPBC Act are far from comprehensive, many threats lack a threat abatement plan or other national response, and many abatement plans are poorly implemented. The system is starved of funding.

The Threats to Nature project

The goal of this project is an ambitious, collaborative, well-funded, nationally coordinated threat abatement system that will be effective in reversing Australia’s extinction crisis.

Working with other environment groups and experts, the Threats to Nature project has developed recommendations to greatly strengthen the national threat abatement system. We will be working to persuade Australia’s governments to adopt these recommendations and will undertake collaborative projects to contribute to the abatement of particular threats.

The benefits of a bolstered national abatement system will be immense:

  • It is essential for the recovery of most of Australia’s almost 2000 nationally threatened species and ecological communities.
  • It will protect declining species, including those whose conservation status is unknown, and prevent ever-more species becoming threatened.It will improve Australia’s ecological health, prevent further ecosystem degradation and improve the resilience of species and ecological communities to climate change and new threats.
  • It will benefit industries such as agriculture and tourism that are impacted by the same threats.

More info

Our submissions to the EPBC Act review:

Australia’s threat abatement system:

 

This project is supported by the Australian Communities Foundation Impact Fund.