Analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation shows more species were added to the national threatened species list in 2023 than in any other year since the list was established.
A total of 144 animals, plants and ecological communities were added to the list for the first time in 2023. This is five times more than the yearly average and twice as many as in the previous record year (2009).
“Our analysis tallies up the number of species that were added to the threatened species list and the total hectares of habitat destruction approved under the national nature law in 2023,” said ACF’s nature campaigner Peta Bulling.
“The laws that are meant to protect nature in Australia are failing.
“The fact species are being listed as threatened is not the problem. Scientists nominated many of these species for listing years ago, so 2023’s high number shows the environment minister and her department are clearing the backlog and making the list better reflect reality.
“The problem is the factors driving species onto the endangered list are not being stopped.
“In the last 12 months, 10,426 hectares of habitat destruction was approved under Australia’s national nature laws – the equivalent to clearing the size of the MCG 5,000 times over.
“This figure is undoubtedly just a fraction of the total habitat actually cleared, as land clearing in Australia often happens without being assessed under national nature laws.
“Clearing for agriculture, primarily beef production, represents the vast majority of this unregulated, unapproved clearing.
“Australia is a world leader in mammal extinctions, so it’s sad to see two mammals – the koala and the northern quoll – among the threatened species most affected by federally-approved habitat destruction in 2023. Clearly, we are not learning from the past.
“We urge Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to make sure the reform of the national environment law deals with the problem of habitat destruction, which keeps pushing unique and much-loved Australian species towards extinction.”
Graph showing additions and uplistings to the national Threatened Species and Ecological Communities lists, minus deletions and downlistings, for each year after the list was established.
Header pic: Northern quoll by Adam Brice (Shutterstock)