Australia’s national environment laws are failing to protect critical habitat that is crucial to saving our endangered species, a new report from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has found.

The new research reveals that Australia is lagging countries like the United States in preserving habitat vital for the protection of rare animals, plants, reptiles, fish and birds.

The research reveals:

  • Just five places are protected as critical habitat in Australia, the last in 2005.
  • There are over 100 threatened species whose critical habitat has been identified as essential to their survival, but has not been protected.
  • There is no legal penalty for wilfully damaging critical habitat on non-Commonwealth land.

ACF Healthy Eco-systems Campaigner, Jess Abrahams, said to avert Australia’s extinction crisis, and ensure species persist into the future, strong action is needed to protect the best areas of habitat that remain.

“Our research shows how Australia’s existing laws are failing on many fronts,” Mr Abrahams said.

“Despite having over 1900 nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities, Australia’s national critical habitat register protects only 5 places as critical habitat.

“Given the immediacy of the threats to endangered wildlife, it is ridiculous that no critical habitat has been listed for any species since 2005. The experience in the United States, where critical habitat is routinely protected, is that threatened species begin recovering when their homes are properly protected.

“Our current law provides patently inadequate protection to prevent the destruction of critical habitat. It is subject to the political whims of ministers who are afforded broad discretion and may be subject to the pull of vested interests.

“Australia has the privilege of being one of the few mega-diverse nations in the world. Without proper protections, beloved species like the Leadbeater’s Possum could well be extinct within a few years. If we’re going to protect our native species we must fix these laws and we must do it now.”

The full report can be found here.

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]