Australian animals need better environmental protection

16/03/2020

With the recent bushfire emergency killing more than one billion animals, the vulnerability of our native wildlife and their habitats has been highlighted like never before.

Almost all projects (99.7%) assessed by the Federal Government get rubber-stamped.

This shocking loss of animal life left several species closer to extinction. However, the damage caused by the fires is only one challenge. Widespread land clearing and habitat destruction represent a huge, ongoing threat to Australian animals.

Australia’s national environmental laws aren’t doing enough to ensure animals and their habitats are protected. This makes them even more vulnerable when disasters strike. That’s why we need to take a stand now.

Baby joey after Australian bushfires

Flame the joey recovering from her injuries (Image credit: Aussie Mobile Vets)

What is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)?

The EPBC Act is meant to provide a framework for protecting the Australian environment. It includes a range of processes to help protect and promote the recovery of threatened species and to preserve places and matters of national environmental significance.

The EPBC Act also provides for the issuing of approvals and permits for a variety of activities on Commonwealth land including land clearing, farming, mining and development; and is the sole environmental assessment process for national protected matters.

But it’s not working. Almost all projects (99.7%) assessed by the Federal Government get rubber-stamped.

Why our environmental laws matter

Strong environmental laws are critical to the survival of Australian animals. Without robust environmental laws, vital natural habitats will continue to be lost or damaged, vulnerable animal and plant species will become extinct at an increasing rate, and Australia’s unique biodiversity will be put at grave risk.

Where our environmental laws have failed

Species extinction: Australia has among the worst extinction rates on the planet. Yet government fails to do what’s necessary to save endangered species.

Deforestation: The rate of deforestation in Australia is on par with the destruction of the Amazon, killing wildlife and impacting the environment. Old growth forests – and homes to endangered species – are still being clear-felled for woodchips.

Our iconic koala – which became the recognisable face of the bushfire crisis – had already lost one million hectares of potential habitat before the fires! Further proof that the EPBC Act is ineffective at protecting important habitat.

Water pollution and misuse: River pollution continues to pose a massive threat to the Great Barrier Reef; and over-extraction of water is decimating our natural assets like the Murray-Darling River system.

Climate change: As the single most challenging issue of our time, climate change is worsened by the development of new, polluting coal, gas and oil mines which threaten the health of both human communities and natural habitats.

Australia’s precious animals, forests and rivers have never been more at risk from these threats. Extinction is forever.

Iconic Australian animals, like koalas and many other species, need you to take a stand and demand better environmental protection!

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