Photo: Kristian Bell

Australia’s nature strategy needs a bolder, science-based vision

Representatives of Australia’s peak professional ecological body, the Ecological Society of Australia, are deeply concerned that the Federal Government’s draft strategy for nature 2018–2030 will not protect Australia’s biodiversity.

‘The strategy falls a long way short of what’s required and contains significant flaws,’ senior office bearers say in The Conversation today. ‘It contains no firm commitments or measurable targets, and overlooks a substantial amount of relevant scientific evidence.’

Lead author of the statement, Associate Professor Euan Ritchie, Director of the Ecological Society of Australia’s Media Group, says Australia has the worst conservation record of any wealthy nation. ‘Since European arrival, 50 animal and 60 plant species have gone extinct, and more than 1,800 plant, animal and ecological communities are listed as being at risk of extinction.’

The authors say this has been recognised by successive governments, but never successfully tackled.

The Federal Government has released a draft strategy for public comment. The Ecological Society of Australia has made a formal submission to the public consultation, providing an alternative, evidence-based vision that includes nine key recommendations for nature conservation in Australia:

1.  Set measurable targets to know whether the strategy has been successful or not.

2.  Commit to preventing human-caused species extinctions.

3.  Adequately fund the strategy’s implementation, raising investment in conservation from 0.8% of GDP to 2% as a minimum.

4.  Focus on the intrinsic value of biodiversity rather than the vague notion of “nature”.

5.  Make specific legislative recommendations.

6.  Commit to establishing a comprehensive system of protected areas, including marine parks.

7.  Include all 20 Aichi biodiversity targets and affirm Australia’s commitment to the Convention on Biodiversity.

8.  Base the strategy on Australia’s international conservation commitments.

9.  Recognise key issues that affect Australian biodiversity conservation, such as Australia’s increasing use of natural resources, environmental water flows in rivers, and overfishing.

Associate Professor  Ritchie and co-authors say Australia’s unique plants, animals and other organisms shape our national identity. ‘They have wide-ranging benefits to our society, as well as being inherently valuable in their own right. They need a much stronger commitment to their ongoing protection.’

The full statement is published in The Conversation: