In response to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the Management of Threatened Species and Ecological Communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s national biodiversity policy adviser Sophie Power, said:
“This audit starkly reveals how Australia’s key piece of environmental legislation is failing our unique threatened species.
“Alarmingly, only 2% of species recovery plans have been completed within statutory time frames since 2013.
“The average time it took to establish a species recovery plan was 2,355 days – in other words more than six years.
“Meanwhile, the federal government has approved the clearing of more than 25,000 hectares of koala habitat since the species was declared ‘vulnerable’ to extinction ten years ago.
“Even when a species has a recovery plan, there is insufficient monitoring to make sure the plan is actually achieving anything.
“The EPBC Act requires recovery plans to be reviewed within five years, but of the 77 recovery plans due for their first five-year review between 2016 and 2021, none were reviewed within the statutory timeframe. This is completely unacceptable.
“The main index indicates that threatened species populations have declined around 60% in the 20 years since the EPBC Act came into effect.
“Much loved Australian animals that were once considered common – like koalas and gang gang cockatoos – are now in serious trouble in many parts of the country.
“Repeated deep cuts to the Department’s budget have not helped matters.
“Australia’s threatened species desperately need stronger national environmental laws and an independent regulator to enforce them.”