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Australia unveils 'zero extinction' plan for wildlife

October 4, 2022

Officials have set out what is being called an "ambitious" plan aimed at protecting Australia's unique plants and animals. The government wants to set aside 30% of land for conservation as part of the effort.

A koala gripping the trunk of a tree
Environmentalists say that habitats are in decline due to human activitiesImage: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Australia's environment authorities on Tuesday presented a plan to bolster protection and restoration of the country's threatened species and natural places.

"The need for action to protect our plants, animals and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater," Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a statement.

Australia's questionable conservation record

Australia, while ranked among the world's wealthiest countries, gets a poor score when it comes to the protection of its animal species.

"Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world," Plibersek said.

Wildlife advocacy groups say that animal habitats are in decline due to human activity, and events like the devastating 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires are estimated to have killed, injured or displaced around 3 billion animals.

"The Black Summer bushfires in particular have seen devastating results for many species. We are determined to give wildlife a better chance," said Plibersek.

Saving Australia's reefs

Australia's 'zero extinction' plan

"The Threatened Species Action Plan" is a 10-year conservation plan which at its core is designed to prevent new extinctions.

According to the government figures, 10 additional threatened species are at "imminent risk of extinction," and have been added to the 100 priority species list.

"Listing species as threatened under national environment law is a critical step in protecting the species and habitats in need of urgent help," Plibersek pointed out.

Two small rock wallabies
The grey snake, matchstick grasshopper and small parma wallaby are among the new species listed as threatenedImage: Krystyna Szulecka/FLPA/picture alliance

Authorities have identified 14 new priority places, in addition to six islands.

Plibersek said that by prioritising 110 species and 20 places, the areas managed for conservation would increase by 50 million hectares.

Environment authorities seek to protect and conserve more than 30% of Australia's land mass.

The plan also identifies the need for increased participation of First Nations Peoples in the management and recovery of threatened species and communities that are ecologically threatened.

Environmentalists welcome 'ambitious' scheme

The measures have been welcomed by environmental groups, with the World Wildlife Fund saying that the objective was "achievable."

 "It's great to see Australia join other developed countries, including New Zealand and members of the EU, in setting a target of zero new extinctions. Halting extinctions is achievable."

The objective "is ambitious but essential if future generations of Australians are to see animals like koalas, mountain pygmy possums, greater gliders and gang gang cockatoos," said the Australian Conservation Foundation's Basha Stasak.

The 10-year plan will be up for review in 2027.

kb/nm (AFP, Reuters)