Relaxed laws imperil Australian wildlife

28 06 2013
Christmas Island pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus murrayi). © M. Schultz

Christmas Island pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus murrayi). © M. Schultz

On the continuing theme of the demise of laws designed to protect Australian biodiversity (see here, here and here), I’m reproducing our latest Nature Correspondence on the issue. I know this might be slightly dodgy to do so, but given that it’s only a Correspondence, I don’t think I’ll get in too much trouble. Besides, it’s too important an issue to hide away behind paywalls.

Policy and legislative changes by Australia’s state governments are eroding the vital protection of the country’s unique biodiversity.

Reserves are being opened up to ecologically disruptive activities, such as grazing by domestic livestock, logging, mining, recreational hunting and fishing, and commercial development. Protected habitats on private and leasehold land are imperilled too. Queensland and Victoria, for example, are relaxing hard-won laws that limit vegetation clearance on private land, further accelerating the loss of regional biodiversity.

Collectively, these actions increase the pressure on biodiversity conservation in protected areas, many of which are already showing biodiversity loss (for example, the Kakadu National Park in northern Australia). Ecological connectivity is being lost, which will hamper the dispersal of species and their ability to respond to climate-change effects.

Species extinctions are primed to increase. Too many of the country’s unique fauna and flora have been wiped out over the past two centuries (see, for example, C. Johnson Australia’s Mammal Extinctions; Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006), including the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus murrayi) in 2009.

There could be no worse time to weaken reserve protection and relax laws designed to reduce habitat loss.

Authors: Euan Ritchie, CJA Bradshaw, Richard Hobbs, Chris Johnson, Emma Johnston, Bill Laurance, David Lindenmayer, Mick McCarthy, Dale Nimmo, Hugh Possingham, Bob Pressey David Watson & John Woinarksi



4 responses

29 11 2013
King for a day – what conservation policies would you make? |

[…] vegetation. In Australia anyway, anti-clearing laws are state-governed, and there is now a trend in some states to roll back or ‘relax’ these laws such that land-holders can now clear native forests. If there was national oversight of these laws, […]


26 07 2013
Relaxed laws imperil Australian wildlife | Adhi Desknotes

[…] See on […]


18 07 2013
Guilty until proven innocent |

[…] we’re not being very precautionary at all. At a more local scale, I note that in addition to national parks being stripped of their legal protection, Australia’s Environmental Protection Authorities have been systematically removing so-called […]


28 06 2013
Greg Miles

I have an idea to make the bureaucrats in charge, accountable for species extinction. Others (e.g. Woinarski and Flannery) have made the point that there is currently no accountability for the loss of a species. My suggestion is that a note be added to the formal citation (is that the correct word) of a species after it slips into never never land. Along with the name and date of the author of the species description – there should be added – the date of extinction and the names of the state or Federal Environment Minister and the head of the relevant Government nature conservation agency at the time of extinction. Those names would remain there forevermore.


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