On 4th October, the Australian Government announced a pledge to reserve 30% of Australia’s total land for conservation by 2030. This represents an additional 10%, or 50 million hectares, to be transferred into the National Reserve System. SWCC strongly supports the 30 x 30 pledge and hopes to see it formalised as an international target under the Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal in December.
We recognise that reserving land for conservation is only part of the solution however. Conservation reserves require long-term management for weed, pest and disease control, revegetation and infrastructure. SWCC advocates for increased investment to support this work in existing and newly established reserves. We also encourage the Government to work with regional NRM organisations like ours to identify key locations for new conservation reserves.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek also launched a new Threatened Species Action Plan, with an ambitious goal of zero extinctions. Whilst the goal is to be commended, SWCC recognises that species are often functionally extinct for many years before they’re able to be formally pronounced ‘extinct’. We would encourage an increased focus on preventing threatened species transitioning from vulnerable, to endangered, to critically endangered so they never tip over into extinction. Here in southwestern Australia, we are home to a number of critically endangered species at extremely high risk of extinction:
- 1 mammal – western ringtail possum
- 4 birds – curlew sandpiper, great knot, northern Siberian bar-tailed godwit, and eastern Curlew
- 3 crustaceans – Margaret River hairy marron, Margaret River burrowing crayfish and Dunsborough burrowing crayfish
- 1 frog – white-bellied frog
- 16 plants
In total, the SWCC region is known to host 167 threatened species and 14 threatened ecological communities. For a full list, refer to Appendix C of the South West Region NRM Strategy.
The new Threatened Species Action Plan, which supercedes the Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 released by the previous government last year, includes a number of additions:
- Fifteen new species and three ecological communities added to the EPBC Act list of threatened species. None of these species are present in the SWCC region.
- An additional 10 threatened species that are at imminent risk of extinction added to the 100 priority species list, including the white bellied frog. The western swamp tortoise
- Twenty priority places , including remnant Wheatbelt woodlands within the SWCC region.
For 20 years, SWCC has worked to protect threatened species and the wider ecosystem of the region, and welcomes the Government’s renewed focus in this area.