Australia’s Chance To End Animal And Plant Extinction - Zero Target Announced By Federal Government
With about almost half a million different native species, Australia is a land like no other. Australia is home to some of the most unique and magnificent flora and fauna in the world with vast grasslands, tropical rainforests, eucalypt forests and diverse woodlands that provide shelter to our most precious threatened species. Among them are the well known kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat.
The geographic isolation has meant that much of Australia’s flora and fauna is very different from species in other parts of the world with most not found anywhere else. Australia separated from Antarctica 50 million years ago. As it drifted away from the southern polar region, the climate became warmer and drier. New species of plants and animals evolved to dominate the landscape.
Yet - sadly and disappointingly - there is another side to Australia today. We find ourselves in a period of immense change and challenge...all of which Australia is failing to address. From climate change, deforestation, and salinity, to widespread pollution and astounding rates of wildlife extinction, we have failed to take effective and comprehensive action.
Unfortunately Australia is also a world leader in species extinction with more mammals under threat than any other country. Since colonisation Australia has officially made over 100 species extinct but scientists estimate the real number may be much higher.
So what does extinction mean? “Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds, usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction
With an abundance of rhetoric, but a manifestly inadequate lack of an integrated, effective federal program, both sides of politics in Australia have failed the flora and fauna protection of this Great Southern Land so far. For us humans, every aspect of our life is reliant on the natural environment including the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the products that are made and sold to create jobs and drive the economy.
Right now, we are facing an extinction crisis in Australia.
Centuries of destruction of habitat combined with escalating impacts of climate change, bushfires and deforestation are pushing endangered wildlife to the brink.
Might there be hope?
Now - finally - Australia’s Federal Government has set a goal to halt the loss of any more species and end its status as "the mammal extinction capital of the world".
I quote from the BBC News Australia article (see reference):
“More than 100 threatened animals and plants - including iconic species like the koala - will be prioritised under new conservation strategies. The plan includes a promise to protect a third of the continent's land mass. Earlier this year a report found Australia's environment is in shocking decline.
Many native animals and plants face threats including habitat loss, invasive pests and weeds, climate change, and more frequent and destructive natural disasters.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the need for action has never been greater.
"Our current approach has not been working," Ms Plibersek said in a statement. "We are determined to give wildlife a better chance."
The goal to list 30% of Australia's land as protected under national environment laws will help vulnerable species and habitats, she said.
The 10-year strategy also aims to improve resilience to climate change, build "insurance" populations of some key species in predator-free zones, and better monitor existing populations.
It calls for more efforts to reduce the impact of feral cats, foxes and a prolific weed known as gamba grass, and to better harness Aboriginal expertise on managing the environment.
Twenty areas with high densities of threatened species will be specifically targeted. They include Kangaroo Island in South Australia and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, which were devastated by bushfires in 2019-20.
The 110 species to be prioritised include the Australian sea lion and the rarest marsupial in the world, Gilbert's Potoroo - of which only about 100 remain.
Ms Plibersek says the strategy is the government's answer to the State of the Environment report, which found Australia has lost more species to extinction than any other continent.”
Our planet is currently experiencing the worst wave of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. And here in Australia, with 86 of our native flora and fauna species now critically endangered, we run a real risk of losing some of our most iconic species forever. Habitat destruction, introduced species and urban development threaten the survival of our native species.
With the decline of Australia’s native wildlife, our ecosystem hangs in the balance. Once they are gone, they are gone forever!
WE SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD ANY FURTHER DELAY OF ACTIONS...our lives, those of future generations, our economies, societies and cultures depend on it...
How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew about this - and I did NOTHING ? - Sir David Attenborough
More interesting reading on the subject:
The Guardian, Conservation 04.10.2022 (viewed 05.10.2022)
BBC News, Australia 04.10.2022 (viewed 05.10.20222)
The Nature Conservancy Australia (viewed 06.10.2022)
Enviroblog.net, 09.03.2021 (viewed 06.10.2022)