Save our big backyard

Create strong national nature protection laws that stop Australia’s worsening extinction crisis, and support nature as a climate solution. New laws must be enforced by an independent regulator.

Our forests, wetlands and bushlands store greenhouse gases, provide homes for our unique animals and birds, and are places where people restore and revive.

The challenge

Australia is a global leader in the extinction of mammals. Our environment is in an unsustainable rate of decline and critical ecosystems are collapsing.

The loss of nature in cities and regional Australia is making people vulnerable to dangerous heat waves and extreme weather events.

Land clearing for agriculture and habitat destruction remain one of the primary drivers of biodiversity decline and extinction risk in Australia.

The opportunity

  • Protecting and restoring nature reduces greenhouse gas emissions, absorbs carbon, and helps us adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • Opportunities to support regional and urban communities, Indigenous Australians and farmers to create economic wealth from regenerating nature.
  • Nature helps regulate the climate, provides us with clean water, productive soil and ensures we can grow crops to feed the world.
  • Keeping nature healthy is essential to human health. Protecting the natural world lowers the risk of further deadly disease outbreaks like the coronavirus and protects plants, animals, and microbes which help supply our modern medicines.
  • Nature is fundamental to the Australian experience and to our identity. It is where we go to escape and is home to the animals we love that live nowhere else.

How to make the change

Create strong national nature protection laws that stop Australia’s worsening extinctioncrisis, and support nature as a climate solution. New laws must be enforced by an independent regulator. Our forests, wetlands and bushlands store greenhouse gases, provide homes for our unique animals and birds, and are places where people restore and revive.

Tests of success

  • The Australian government:
    • Sets strong national environmental standards enshrined in law to protect and restore Australia's nationally threatened wildlife and ecosystems and our nationally and internationally significant wetlands and heritage places.
    • Creates an independent and well resourced national Environment Assurance Commission to audit performance and oversee implementation of national environmental standards.
    • Creates an independent compliance regulator to safeguard Australia’s environment.
    • Provides community access to justice and participation in environmental decision making, including ensuring open standing and merits review for environmental decisions, providing for third-party enforcement rights to hold decision-makers to account.
    • Ensures Indigenous knowledge, customs and interest are recognised and respected under national environmental laws.
  • The Australian government allocates adequate funding to restore and protect nature, including $1.69 billion per year for threatened species, and supports the role of nature in sequestering climate pollution.

Benefits

  • Stem the extinction of our species like the koala and platypus so they are around for future generations.
  • Our forests, wetlands and bushlands store greenhouse gases, provide homes for our unique animals and birds, and are places where people restore and revive.
  • Nature helps cool cities where the majority of Australians live, reduces the impact of deadly heatwaves and improves mental health.
  • Healthy ecosystems are the foundation for our economy. Investment in our natural environment creates direct jobs in industries like tourism and land management. A $4 billion investment in a national conservation and land management program could restore our degraded forests, rivers, coastlines, manage invasive animals and weeds and generate an estimated 53,000 jobs over the next four years.
  • Transitioning our food, built environment, and energy systems to be nature-positive could deliver $US10 trillion dollars a year in economic value and 400 million jobs by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum.

Case study

Effective laws protect nature

Experience in other countries demonstrates that strong national nature protection laws are effective in reversing the decline of species
threatened with extinction.

For example, the US Endangered Species Act has much stronger protection for habitat critical to the survival of threatened species
than Australia’s national environmental protection laws.

The overall track record of the Endangered Species Act shows that effective implementation of strong nature protection laws makes a difference.

Successful outcomes include:

- From 1973 to 2013, the Act prevented extinction for 99% of species under its protection.

- The Act has shown a 90% recovery rate in more than 100 species — including grizzly bears, humpback whales and bald eagles — throughout the United States.

- The Act has allowed the designation of millions of acres of critical habitat, which is crucial to species' survival and recovery.

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