Australia to allocate 30% of land mass for protection of endangered species
Australia's government announced a "zero extinctions" drive Tuesday that'll see at least 30% of the country's land mass reserved for conservation in order to protect threatened animals and plants.
Why it matters: "Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world," said Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek in a statement announcing the 10-year plan to save threatened species including the iconic koala.
- "Our native wildlife continues to be threatened by climate change, by natural disasters, by feral predators, and by human activity," Plibersek said.
Details: "Based on input from researchers and experts from the community, this plan identifies 20 priority places and 110 priority species and will guide recovery actions that will benefit a broad range of threatened species and their habitats," Plibersek said.
- That doesn't mean the government won't be looking to protect other threatened plants and animals, but "if we focus on those species, we create a kind of halo effect for the whole ecosystem the plant or animal is part of," Plibersek told ABC Radio National.
- The plan will be reviewed in 2027.
Threat level: Australia has lost more species of mammal than any other continent, according to an environment report published in July.
- The number of listed threatened species increased by 8% since the last time the five-yearly report was issued.
- A large swathe of the country was bracing for more flooding this week, with heavy rain forecast from the Northern Territory to the island state of Tasmania.
Of note: "The Black Summer bushfires in particular have seen devastating results for many species," said Plibersek, in reference to the 2019-20 bushfire season that killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.
- Over 61,000 koalas were killed, wounded or displaced in the climate-change driven wildfire disaster.
- The previous government listed koalas as endangered in several parts of Australia last February due to those fires and other factors including drought.
What they're saying: Conservationists welcomed the government's plan, but expressed concern that it didn't protect all species under threat.
- "Australia has more than 1,900 listed threatened species," said WWF-Australia chief conservation officer Rachel Lowry in a statement.
- "This plan picks 110 winners. ... Costed and time-bound recovery plans are essential for all threatened species. Otherwise we will see more native animals silently crossing the extinction line."
Read the action plan, via DocumentCloud: