Big changes proposed for conservation planning would see the federal government dispense with recovery plans for hundreds of threatened species and ecological communities, the Australian Conservation Foundation warned today.

“More than 1,900 threatened species and ecological communities are listed under the national environment law and recovery plans are legally required for 914 of these,” said Brendan Sydes, ACF’s Biodiversity Policy Adviser.

“The Environment Minister has indicated she’s moving to drop recovery plans for 185 of these species, with hundreds more to come. 

“We understand the proposed changes would see only 238 – just 12% – of Australia’s 1,900 threatened species and ecological communities continue to be supported by a recovery plan.”

Striped legless lizardsTasmanian devils, whale sharksgolden sun moths, Abbott’s booby, the glossy black cockatoos of Kangaroo Island and the giant burrowing frog are some of the threatened species that would no longer be supported by recovery plans if the Minister follows through with her proposal.

“Ecological communities like the giant kelp forests off the south-eastern coast would no longer be afforded a recovery plan,” Mr Sydes said.

Conservation Advices are not an adequate replacement for recovery plans, as they are much less rigorous in what they require and don’t have the same legal clout.

“To virtually give up on recovery planning would be a terrible admission that there is no political will to tackle Australia’s extinction crisis.

“Australia has the sorry title of being a world leader in mammal extinctions.

“At a time when more and more species are coming under threat from climate change, we should be investing more money in recovery planning, not giving up on it.

“It’s true recovery plans are not working as well as they should, but the answer is not to abandon them altogether, but rather to improve the system so it works.

“This backward step comes less than 12 months after Professor Graeme Samuel’s independent review of the national environment law, which found the Act was not fit for purpose and was failing Australia’s threatened species.

“Rather than comprehensively respond to Professor Samuel’s recommendations for wholesale reforms needed to protect and recovery Australia’s biodiversity, the government is instead abandoning hundreds of threatened species, effectively making it optional to set out the detailed steps needed to get these species off the endangered list.”

This table sets out what ACF understands is proposed for the 914 species and ecological communities for which a recovery plan is required.


Recovery plan currently required

Will no longer require a recovery plan

Will still require a recovery plan

Ecological communities


50 (86%)




158 (58%)




468 (80%)




676 (74%)


ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]