Have your say · Nature & the Reef

Australia's faunal extinction crisis: submissions open

13 August, 2018

Have your say on an inquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis referred by the Senate to to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry. Submissions due: 10 September 2018.

On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred an inquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry (Senate Inquiry). The Committee must report by 4 December 2018.

The committee has agreed to extend the date for receipt of submissions to 10 September 2018.

For more information on the Inquiry, including how to put in a submission, see this website: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Faunalextinction

The Inquiry includes ‘the wide ecological impact of faunal extinction, the adequacy of Commonwealth environment laws, the adequacy of existing monitoring practices, assessment process and compliance mechanisms for enforcing Commonwealth environmental law, and a range of other matters.’ The terms of reference have been extracted below.

The terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry are as follows:

  • ‘the ongoing decline in the population and conservation status of Australia's nearly 500 threatened fauna species;
  • the wider ecological impact of faunal extinction;
  • the international and domestic obligations of the Commonwealth Government in conserving threatened fauna;
  • the adequacy of Commonwealth environment laws, including but not limited to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, in providing sufficient protections for threatened fauna and against key threatening processes;
  • the adequacy and effectiveness of protections for critical habitat for threatened fauna under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  • the adequacy of the management and extent of the National Reserve System, stewardship arrangements, covenants and connectivity through wildlife corridors in conserving threatened fauna;
  • the use of traditional knowledge and management for threatened species recovery and other outcomes as well as opportunities to expand the use of traditional knowledge and management for conservation;
  • the adequacy of existing funding streams for implementing threatened species recovery plans and preventing threatened fauna loss in general;
  • the adequacy of existing monitoring practices in relation to the threatened fauna assessment and adaptive management responses;
  • the adequacy of existing assessment processes for identifying threatened fauna conservation status;
  • the adequacy of existing compliance mechanisms for enforcing Commonwealth environment law; and
  • any related matters.’

EDO Qld is pleased to see that attention is being given to the very real crisis of Australia’s fauna population declines and the failures of our environmental laws to prevent it continuing. We encourage all interested people to get a submission in to this important inquiry.

Australia’s precious fauna have been reducing in number for decades. The federal government’s most recent State of the Environment report concluded that Australia’s biodiversity had declined further since the last report in 2011 and new approaches were needed to prevent continued species declines. The 2017 Report found that a number of key constraints on management effectiveness in Australia, including:

  • ‘lack of an overarching national policy that establishes a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of Australia’s environment to the year 2050, which is supported by
  • specific action programs and policy to preserve and, where necessary, restore natural capital and our unique environments, taking into account the need to adapt to climate change
  • complementary policy and strengthened legislative frameworks at the national, state and territory levels
  • efficient, collaborative and complementary planning and decision-making processes across all levels of government, with clear lines of accountability
  • poor collaboration and coordination of policies, decisions and management arrangements across sectors and between managers (public and private)
  • a lack of follow-though from policy to action
  • inadequacy of data and long-term monitoring, which interferes with our ability to apply effective policy and management, and establish adequate early warning of threats. For example, our understanding of even the most iconic and well-known species in Australia is often patchy, and sufficient knowledge of ecosystem processes that maintain the 99 per cent of species that account for Australia’s biodiversity is missing
  • insufficient resources for environmental management and restoration
  • inadequate understanding and capacity to identify and measure cumulative impacts, which reduces the potential for coordinated approaches to their management.’

Helpful resources:

The 2017 Commonwealth State of the Environment Report provides helpful data on the status of threats to our fauna: https://soe.environment.gov.au/

The Queensland State of the Environment Report is found here: https://www.stateoftheenvironment.des.qld.gov.au/2015

The independent review by Dr Allan Hawke of the EPBC Act may assist in suggestions around improvements needed to our EPBC Act (which were largely ignored): http://www.environment.gov.au/legislation/environment-protection-and-biodiversity-conservation-act/epbc-review-2008

If you want to get in to what our legal framework could look like, check out the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Laws technical papers:  http://apeel.org.au/papers/

You might also be interested in the resources on this website from the Department of Environment and Energy relevant to Australia’s threatened species: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications

The closing date for submissions is now 10 September 2018.

A helpful guide to making submissions has been provided on the Senate Inquiry page here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/How_to_make_a_submission

Send your submissions to:

Mail:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Email: ec.sen@aph.gov.au

Fax: +61 2 6277 5818

You can contact the Committee Secretary on: +61 2 6277 3526

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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