An inquiry by the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee. Supplementary submission by the Invasive Species Council.
The Invasive Species Council welcomes the opportunity to provide a supplementary submission to the reconstituted inquiry into Australia’s extinction crisis. This submission builds on our original submission to the inquiry from September 2018.
Australia has some of the most unique ecosystems and wildlife in the world. Most Australian terrestrial plant and vertebrate animal species are unique (endemic to Australia) – some 95% of frogs, 90% of reptiles, 87% of terrestrial mammals, 87% of ants, 68% of freshwater fishes and 50% of birds. Australia has far more endemic reptiles than any other country, more endemic ants, the world’s second highest number of endemic mammals and birds, and the third highest number of endemic trees.
The evolutionary uniqueness of our wildlife coupled with the sheer number of endemic species makes Australia one of the few mega-biodiverse countries in the world. However, despite this incredible diversity of life, Australia is in the grips of a growing extinction crisis.
It is well understood that as a nation we lead the world on the extinction of mammals. Australia is second globally when it comes to the decline of biodiversity. Since European colonisation Australia’s wildlife has been besieged – by voracious new predators, large scale 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 major drivers of biodiversity decline are well documented – invasive species, habitat destruction, adverse fire regimes and climate change top the list of the most significant threats to nature. If we are to protect what is most distinctive about this country – our unique plants, animals and ecological communities – it is clear we need an ambitious, systematic, well-funded and nationally coordinated threat abatement system.