The Australian State of the Environment Report 2021 was released on Tuesday 19 July by the Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek. The five-yearly environmental scorecard paints a bleak picture of decline in Australia’s native animals and ecosystems, emphasising the lack of coordination and investment in environmental management.
Since the release of the previous report in 2016, there has been an 8% increase in the number of threatened species and more extinctions are expected. There are now over 1,900 species and ecological communities listed as threatened. Of these, according to the report, there are 42 critically endangered species that have no protection in the National Reserve System. Key threats – including habitat loss, invasive species, resource extraction, climate change and pollution – have increased in intensity over the last five years. These threats are putting intense pressures on our natural environment.
Beyond all the bad news, the State of the Environment Report also identifies some ‘bright spots’; reasons to remain hopeful for the future of Australia’s environment. Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is cited as a shining example, recognised for our investment in feral predator-free safe havens, approach to practical management of ecosystems, and commitment to working alongside Traditional Owners and Indigenous ranger groups to improve conservation outcomes.
AWC wholeheartedly supports the Government’s commitment to doubling the number of Indigenous rangers and increasing support for Indigenous Protected Areas across the country. We welcome the $224.5 million pledged towards threatened species protection and support the commitment to increasing the area of land and oceans set aside for conservation, in line with the global movement towards 30% by 2030. However, as discussed by Minister Plibersek, simply providing protection for an area is inadequate and effective conservation requires active management, including removing feral predators, restoring healthy fire regimes, removing invasive weeds and monitoring and reporting on the success of these programs.
As stated by Minister Plibersek during the launch of the report, ‘Australian scientists are world class. We know how to restore landscapes, repair coral reefs, and recover threatened species.’ AWC exemplifies how science-informed land management is restoring ecological health.
The urgent work of protecting, restoring and managing Australia’s environment requires all of us to work together: governments, First Nations people, pastoralists, private conservation groups and everyday citizens. AWC shows what can be achieved when we get it right. Across our network of sanctuaries and partnership sites, we are rebuilding populations of threatened species, dealing with threats like feral animals and weeds, improving fire regimes, restoring ecological health, and using data and evidence to assess management actions and remain accountable. Since the last State of the Environment Report was released in 2016, AWC has:
This has been achieved thanks to our hard-working field teams and partners, and incredibly generous supporters and volunteers.
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