The Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) says the Federal Government’s new prospectus to save Australia’s threatened species is a positive initiative, but highlights the current Government is unwilling to invest what’s required to prevent extinctions of our native biodivesity.
In an article published in The Conversation today, Professor Don Driscoll, President of ESA, and colleagues say that engaging industry in threatened species issues is wonderful, but the Government could easily fund these directly. ‘Funding needs to be in the billions, not tens of millions,’ says Professor Driscoll.
The Government states the prospectus is ‘an invitation to business, industry and the philanthropic sector, both big and small, to join us in protecting species such as the platypus, bilby, cassowary and numbat.’
The ESA supports the scientific study of organisms in relation to their environment, and encourages the application of ecological principles in the development, use and conservation of Australia's natural resources.
Professor Driscoll says ‘ecological research has identified that Australia has endured the worst rate of mammal extinctions in the world. Since European settlement, Australia has lost 29 mammals, and many more are now at risk of extinction.’
‘Ecological research and partnerships have never been so important,’ says Professor Driscoll. ‘Australia’s unique plants, animals and other life forms are in trouble. New approaches to conservation and land management are needed.’
However, Professor Driscoll notes there are risks to the approach taken by the Government through the prospectus.
‘The prospectus is taxonomically biased. Popular threatened species may be funded, while other species may not be adequately funded. This would lead to a popularity contest, and a highly-skewed conservation program with risks that unpopular species will become extinct while popular species not as close to extinction may have loads of funding.’
Professor Driscoll recommends that an objective, research-based approach is taken to decisions about which species are funded. ‘It all depends how the Government proposes to allocate funding.’
‘ESA members regularly work with the Commonwealth Government in support of Australia’s important conservations efforts and would welcome the opportunity to engage more closely with the Government.’
The Ecological Society of Australia is the peak group of ecologists in Australia, with over 1100 members from all states and territories.
The opinion piece by Professor Driscoll, with Dr Bek Christensen (Vice-President, Ecological Society of Australia) and Dr Euan Ritchie (Director, Media Working Group of the Ecological Society of Australia) was published today at https://theconversation.com
A copy of the Government’s Prospectus is available at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/threatened-species-prospectus