Management of key threats to threatened species and ecological communities
Addressing threatening processes should be a very high
priority in Australia because we have a limited number of significant threats
that are driving a whole range of species to extinction...The way forward with
threats, I believe, is to focus on a small number of pervasive, key threats
that affect a large number of species and adequately resource these threats.
This chapter discusses the key threats to threatened species and
ecological communities raised during this inquiry. This is followed by a
discussion of the regulatory processes, particularly under the EPBC Act, for
listing of key threatening processes and threat abatement planning.
What are the key threats?
Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010‑2030 (the
Biodiversity Strategy) identifies the main threats to Australia's biodiversity
habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation;
unsustainable use and management of natural resources;
changes to the aquatic environment and water flows;
changing fire regimes; and
In terms of threats to threatened species and ecological communities, the
Australian State of the Environment Report 2011 noted that the
most frequently cited threats in listings under the EPBC Act are habitat
fragmentation and the spread of invasive species.
The following additional pressures were identified for marine species:
...the extraction of resources through fishing; introduction of
marine invasive species; disturbance to habitats through shipping, and oil and
gas exploration and production; habitat alteration through urban expansion or
aquaculture facilities; and pollution including catchment run-off.
These key threats to threatened species and ecological communities were
well recognised in many submissions to this inquiry. The key threats consistently
raised were: habitat loss and fragmentation,
invasive species (including disease);
inappropriate fire regimes;
and climate change.
Changes in flow regime and water quality were also noted as threats,
particularly for aquatic species.
For threatened species dependent on the Great Barrier Reef, pollution and water
quality were also identified.
The committee also heard of other species-specific threats, for example,
the lack of effective fish passages threatening species such as the lungfish;
or the impact of shooting in commercial orchards on flying-foxes.
Some of the key threats raised during this inquiry are discussed further
Habitat loss and fragmentation
The Biodiversity Strategy outlines the problem of habitat loss,
degradation and fragmentation for biodiversity:
Habitat loss and fragmentation affect the well-being and
survival of individual populations as well as entire species and in time may
affect the function of entire ecosystems. Direct causes of habitat loss,
degradation and fragmentation include clearing of native vegetation and
pollution of waterways and marine areas.
WWF-Australia submitted that direct habitat destruction 'is the main
reason for terrestrial species becoming endangered'.
The committee heard, for example, about the loss of habitat due to
mining, urban development and agriculture.
More specific examples included the loss of spawning habitat for lungfish,
the effects of the loss of hollow bearing trees on the superb parrot;
and clearing for urban development and its impacts on koalas.
However, the committee also heard that controls on land clearing
introduced by state and territory governments in recent years may have made a
big impact in relation to habitat loss and fragmentation. WWF-Australia
By far the most effective threat abatement has been the
introduction of land clearing or vegetation management legislation in the
states and territories. This has had a dramatic impact on deforestation and
However, Dr Martine Maron was not so sure, indicating that her research
in Queensland shows that vegetation removal continues to be a primary threat:
Although clearing rates have declined since the introduction
of the legislation [the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld)], current
clearing rates for endangered and of concern vegetation communities as a
proportion of remaining extent are still approximately double that of 'not of
concern' vegetation. Therefore, those ecosystems that have historically been
most threatened continue to be the most threatened under the current
ANEDO similarly observed that clearing for development is still a
A key threat to many listed species and communities is loss
of habitat through clearing for development. Management of this and other
threats is frequently undermined by planning and development laws in all
In terms of habitat loss and fragmentation, the committee notes that development
and environmental assessment processes are discussed further in Chapter 7
of this report. The management of 'critical habitat' is discussed in Chapter 5
of this report, and the 'legacy' effect of past land clearing is discussed
later in this chapter.
The committee received an overwhelming amount of evidence about the
various types of invasive species threatening Australia's native species and
ecological communities, including weeds (such as buffel grass);
pest animals and insects (particularly feral cats
invasive fungi such as Phytophthora and diseases such as chytridiomycosis
(which affects amphibians such as frogs).
The Biodiversity Strategy outlines the ways in which invasive species
can cause biodiversity loss, including through:
- competition with native species for food and habitat;
- disease impacts; and
- alteration of the physical environment in ways that exclude
Dr Carol Booth of the Invasive Species Council described invasive
species as the 'predominant cause' of the extinction of mammals in Australia.
The Invasive Species Council were concerned that:
Long-established threats are increasing – feral cats in
northern Australia, Phytophthora cinnamomi in southwest Australia, feral goats
in semi-arid areas, weeds virtually everywhere, for example – and new threats
are emerging – foxes in Tasmania, feral deer in many new locations, myrtle rust
in eastern Australia, yellow crazy ants in the Wet Tropics...
Importance of islands and predator
Evidence was received about the value of islands for threatened species
conservation, and several programs to eradicate invasive species on these
Island Conservation highlighted the importance of islands for threatened
Islands are critical habitat for 31% of Australia’s
critically endangered and endangered fauna, and for 37% of the vulnerable
fauna, including many endemics. Overall, 111 threatened fauna species occur on
Australia's islands, out of a national total of 325 (35%). A high proportion of
these species are directly threatened with extinction by one or more invasive
Island Conservation concluded that island-specific biosecurity
approaches are therefore an 'essential measure to slow Australia's ongoing
As Dr Andrew Burbidge commented, islands 'are much easier to manage than
mainland areas'. However, he also emphasised the importance of biosecurity:
It is no good eradicating rats or cats from an island if they
just come back again because there is no biosecurity—no quarantine—for those
Professor John Woinarski agreed:
...there are many species which formerly occurred across large swathes
of the mainland landscape but which now are restricted to islands. That is
largely because many of the threats do not occur on those islands. So there is
a great imperative to ensure that the quarantine status of those islands is
properly respected and that the opportunities that they provide for national
scale conservation are recognised.
The committee also heard that programs to eradicate invasive animals
such as rats, cats, foxes, goats and mice on islands have mostly been 'highly
successful' and 'have led to major conservation outcomes'. 
For example, Professor Stephen Garnett from BirdLife Australia pointed to the
potential success on Macquarie Island of programs to eradicate rabbits, rats,
mice and cats. He was hopeful that a number of threatened birds might be able
to come off the threatened species lists as a result of these programs, 'which
would be a remarkable achievement globally'.
The committee also received evidence of success stories where
predator-proof sanctuaries or 'mainland islands' have been established. Some
suggested this is the only way to deal with some feral animals and in turn
ensure the survival of many mammals.
As the Colong Foundation for Wilderness articulated:
The only secure habitat is a fenced area within which all
feral wildlife has been eliminated and the fence is adequately maintained.
For example, Mr Atticus Fleming from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy
told the committee that they had created a number of cat and fox free areas on
At its feral free Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in western New South Wales, they have
seen a substantial increase in several nationally threatened species, including
greater bilbies, bridled nail-tail wallabies, numbats, burrowing bettongs and woylies.
Others described the work of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy as a good
example of an effective response to key threats.
Dr Adrian Manning submitted information about a research partnership project
between the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government and the Australian National
University where a predator-proof sanctuary has been established at Mulligans
Flat in the ACT. The project involved the construction of an 11.5km predator
exclusion fence that has provided a 'unique opportunity' to examine the effects
of the reintroduction of the Tasmanian bettong on ecosystem restoration.
Other control methods
There was also some discussion on the use of poisons and baiting of
feral animals. For example, the use of the poison '1080' was discussed: some suggested
greater controls on its use;
while others described 1080 as 'the only effective control for red foxes'.
The committee received positive evidence regarding the successful
'Western Shield' program in Western Australia.
During 2010-11, under this program 'more than 3.9 million hectares of
conservation lands and State forest were baited to control foxes and feral
cats, using nearly 1.1 million poison baits'.
Professor Woinarski described programs such as 'Western Shield' and
'comparable large-scale, long-term programs aimed at the reduction of feral
predators (cats and foxes), through exclosure fencing and/or intensive baiting'
as a 'noteworthy' example of success. He commented that these programs 'demonstrate
that it is possible to restore ecosystems and increase the abundance of animal
species otherwise facing extinction'.
Others expressed concern at the lack of control methods in relation to
some invasive species, such as feral cats.
Many submissions suggested that more research is needed to determine effective
ways to control feral cats, which are reportedly 'trap shy and rarely eat
For example, Mr Frank Manthey from the Save the Bilby Fund, described the
'tsunami of cats' threatening the last wild population of the bilby in
Queensland. He told the committee that there is an estimated population of 23
million cats in Australia.
SEWPAC acknowledged the problem in relation to feral cats, telling the
Cats have probably contributed to the extinction of many
small to medium-sized mammals and ground-nesting birds in the arid zone, and
seriously affect bilby, mala and numbat populations. In some instances, feral
cats have directly threatened the success of recovery programs for threatened species.
The department is putting significant investment into the development of a
broad scale toxic bait for feral cats to provide an effective control tool for
Others suggested that more work is needed into the development of biological
control agents and the use of sterilisation agents for all invasive species.
Indeed, WWF-Australia suggested that biological controls are the 'only enduring
solution' for invasive species is:
Conservation investment is best directed at selecting and releasing
effective biocontrol agents such as calicivirus in rabbits, or the salvinia
weevil, rather than never-ending and expensive spraying, shooting, baiting and
other direct control measures.
In relation to weeds, the committee received evidence of a number of
measures to address the problem, including the Australian Weeds Strategy, under
which the List of Weeds of National Significance (WONS) is established.
However, Dr Carol Booth of the Invasive Species Council expressed the view that
the Australian Weeds Strategy 'is ignored'.
Others reported that funding has been cut for implementing strategies relating
to the Weeds of National Significance.
Some submitters noted legislation at the state level which obliges
landholders to control some weeds, based on their status as declared 'pest
The committee also notes that the Commonwealth government has committed
$15.3 million over four years, from 2008-09 for the National Weeds and
Productivity Research Program. The program will fund research 'into biocontrols
and tools that will reduce the impact of invasive plants on farm and forestry
productivity and also on biodiversity'.
The Invasive Species Council noted that 'escaped nursery plants' were
listed as a 'key threatening process' under the EPBC Act, but that 'this has no
practical effect in preventing the sale of unsafe plants'. No threat abatement
plan has been developed and 'trade in the majority of unsafe nursery plants
remains unregulated in most state and territory jurisdictions'.
By way of example, the Invasive Species Council submitted that 'of 340 ranked
environmental weeds in NSW, about 90% can be sold or planted in part or all of
The committee further notes that the advice to the Minister in relation to the
'escaped nursery plants' listing cited a number of 'serious invasive garden
plants', such as Asparagus Fern (Asparagus scandens), Broom (Genista
spp.), Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum), Gazania (Gazania
linearis), Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba), Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera
japonica), Pepper tree (Schinus areira), Periwinkle (Vinca major)
and Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum), that were still available
for sale at Australian nurseries in some states at the time of listing.
Note that the process of listing key threatening processes and threat
abatement plans under the EPBC Act are discussed later in this chapter.
Government responses to invasive
The committee notes that this committee's predecessor, the Environment,
Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee,
considered the invasive species threat in detail in its 2004 report
"Turning back the tide—the invasive species challenge".
The extent to which that report's recommendations have been implemented was not
examined during this inquiry. However, the committee notes that some
recommendations have not been implemented—for example, the recommendation that
regulations be promulgated under section 301A of the EPBC Act to prohibit the
trade in invasive plants species.
This is discussed further later in this chapter.
During this inquiry, the committee heard that environmental biosecurity
needs to be given the same priority treatment as agriculture biosecurity.
For example, the Invasive Species Council commented that 'environmental
biodiversity currently lags far behind agricultural biosecurity'.
Dr Booth suggested that environmental biosecurity needs to be given higher
...we need to bring environmental biosecurity up to the same
standards so that the contingency planning, the prioritisation, the strategies,
the resources, the research, the monitoring et cetera that go to primary
industries also go to the environment.
In response to questioning, SEWPAC advised that the impact of feral
animals 'are examined in conservation advices and/or recovery plans for
specific threatened species, and in threat abatement plans and their associated
More generally, SEWPAC told the committee that the 'Australian
Government works closely with state and territory governments on policies
designed to reduce the impact of feral animals.' SEWPAC pointed to the
Vertebrate Pests Committee, which is 'responsible for overseeing implementation
of the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and for developing nationally relevant
policy and advice to minimise the impacts and risks from established, emerging
and potential vertebrate pest animals in Australia'.
SEWPAC also stated that the government 'also participates in the development of
national plans to help manage feral animals'.
SEWPAC also told the committee that a 'targeted investment approach' to
reduce the impacts of invasive species was being made under programs such as
Caring for Our Country, the Environmental Stewardship Program and the
These programs provide targeted funding for invasive species
management in order to lessen the impacts upon threatened species and
communities. Under Caring for our Country and the Environmental Stewardship
Program, this has included more than $107 million in investments to eradicate
weeds and pests and protect threatened and endangered species. Under the
Biodiversity Fund, actions to control invasive species should form part of
Several organisations raised the need for greater recognition of disease
as a threatening process for many species.
For example, the Australian Wildlife Health Network outlined some of the key
diseases threatening native species:
The identification of chytridiomycosis, a disease of
amphibians causing extinctions around the world and in Australia took 19 years;
identification of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour took 10 years – because of this
disease there is a real threat that Tasmanian Devils may become extinct in the
wild in the next 25 years. Psittacine beak and feather disease and chlamydiosis
are two other diseases presenting decision making challenges to the good work
of the Orange-bellied parrot recovery team and those working with Koalas.
It was suggested that there is a need for increased focus on disease as
a threatening process, including disease risk assessment and mitigation.
The Australian Wildlife Health Network suggested that 'there is a need to
invest in monitoring and increasing capacity for rapid response for wildlife
diseases that impact upon biodiversity.'
They called for better funding for wildlife disease management, as well as long
term commitment to improved coordination and cross jurisdictional integration.
As discussed earlier in relation to invasive species, it was suggested
that environmental biosecurity needs to be prioritised in the same way as
For example, the Australian Wildlife Health Network emphasised that:
Prevention of disease outbreaks is a far more cost-effective
method than attempting to control outbreaks or eradicate disease. Australia's
national early warning, surveillance system for wildlife health needs to
include diseases that may impact on biodiversity.
Similarly, the Wildlife Disease Association Australasia lamented the lack
of a 'coordinated, supported approach to incorporating wildlife health and
disease efforts into threatened species responses'.
They suggested that there is 'poor utilisation of existing wildlife health and
disease expertise in Recovery Teams, Threat Abatement Plans and other risk
It is noted that only two diseases are listed as key threatening
processes under the EPBC Act: Psittacine beak and feather disease and
chytridiomycosis. Listed key threatening processes and their associated threat
abatement plans are discussed further later in this chapter.
Several submissions raised the issue of climate change, which is thought
likely to exacerbate the other threats.
For example, Professor Woinarski expressed the view that 'over the next 10 to
20 years climate change is going to exacerbate many of the existing threats...'.
The committee heard that climate change may pose additional challenges
to managing key threats to threatened species and ecological communities in the
future. The CSIRO pointed to recent research which indicates that:
...climate change could lead to widespread environmental change
that is very ecologically significant. Climate change could 'lead to most
places in Australia having, by 2070, environments that are more ecologically
different from current conditions than they are similar'.
CSIRO warned that 'where rates of environmental change exceed the
ability of biodiversity to adapt or migrate', this could lead to significant
losses of biodiversity and species extinctions. CSIRO expressed the view that
the 'the number of listed species under climate change is expected to
dramatically increase' and that this has important implications for policies
and processes relating to threatened species.
CSIRO concluded that 'there would be benefit in planning now for
effectiveness of threatened species and ecological communities' protection...in
the context of a changing climate'.
Several witnesses also pointed to a recent report by Professor Will
Steffen and others which examined the vulnerability of Australia's biodiversity
to climate change.
Mr Graham Tupper from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) told the
committee that that report:
...shows that a new approach is needed that looks at cumulative
impact and that looks at whole-of-ecosystems and landscape scale and so on.
Mr Peter Cosier of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists suggested
that we need to recognise this threat in planning processes, and also that we 'need
not only to restore parts of the landscape now but to take into account that
the climate in that landscape might change. The jargon word is
But it is just a word that people use; it is not actually
being done, except in probably two or three incidences in Australia, where
scientists are going in and having a look at the resilience of the various
components of the ecosystems and identifying what needs to be put in place to
ensure that they can deal with these extreme events.
Mr Cosier continued:
A basic biological issue is that species do not go extinct in
average years. They go extinct when you have extreme climate events. An example
is from one of our Wentworth Group members who has studied the Carnaby's
cockatoo in Western Australia. They drop dead when the temperature hits 42
degrees. They have been hanging on for years but if the climate change moves in
there the species will be wiped out in one day.
ANEDO observed that its analysis had:
...found a consistent gap in most laws regarding the threat of
climate change to listed species and communities. Very few laws explicitly
recognise and provide strategies to ameliorate the impacts of climate change,
assist adaptation (where possible) and build species' resilience.
When questioned as to how the possible impacts of climate change on
threatened species and ecological communities are being incorporated into
decision‑making under the EPBC Act, SEWPAC responded:
If considered a threat, the impact of climate change is
specifically covered in individual listing and/or conservation advices,
including in the outline of threats, analysis against listing criteria and
recommended priority research actions. As an example, the threat of rising sea
temperatures was covered as a specific threat that contributed to the listing
of ‘Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South East Australia’ in August 2012.
SEWPAC also advised that the potential impacts of climate change are
recognised in recovery and threat abatement plans where relevant:
For example, the draft threat abatement plan for disease in
natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi has a section...about
the potential effect of climate change on the distribution and expression of
SEWPAC also noted that greater flexibility in developing and
implementing threat abatement plans, including a regional or landscape approach
to threat abatement may assist in addressing climate change adaptation issues.
SEWPAC concluded that climate change is a 'threat that is not easily
managed', where 'global efforts are needed to abate the threat'.
However, it pointed the new Clean Energy Futures Biodiversity Fund, which it
said will help to 'build resilience and restore habitat connectivity, as well
as help manage threats that can have a compounding impact with climate change,
such as invasive species.'
The committee notes that the House of Representatives Standing Committee
on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts has also recently conducted an
inquiry into 'Australia's biodiversity in a changing climate'.
Inappropriate fire regimes
Several submissions also raised the threat of inappropriate fire
For example, the Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
observed that 'the fire regimes that threaten most listed species and
communities in Queensland are those that are too frequent, too intense, and
generally occur late in the dry season'.
The minister further submitted that:
Fire management plans are prepared for many protected areas,
and planned burn guidelines have also been prepared for Queensland
bioregions...Fire guidelines for regional ecosystems are also included in the
Regional Ecosystem Description Database...and fire management actions for wildlife
conservation are included in a series of management guidelines for Broad
Mr Andrew Heaver noted that inappropriate fire regimes are recognised as
a threat for several listed species—and as a 'threatening process' under the
Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. He noted that while there
has been a 'reasonable' amount of research relating to fire ecology and
Australian plant communities, much less research is available on the
relationships between animal species and fire regimes.
Professor John Woinarski discussed the decline in biodiversity in
Northern Australia, and argued that this was partly a result of 'poor fire
The committee also heard about a number of research projects examining
the linkages between fire regimes and biodiversity declines.
For example, the Director of National Parks submitted that it commenced the
Kakadu National Park Fire Plot Monitoring Program in 1995:
The program aims to assess fire regimes, their impacts upon
biodiversity and the consequences and efficacy of fire management. It is one of
the few long‑standing monitoring programs in an Australian protected area
and was instrumental in the diagnosis of the decline of small mammals currently
occurring across Australia’s northern savannas.
Interaction between key threats
The committee also received evidence that the key threats discussed
above interact with each other. For example, climate change is likely to
exacerbate the other threats. Other examples include, inappropriate fire
regimes increasing the vulnerability of small mammals to predation by feral
animals such as cats;
or the spread of exotic pasture grasses impacting on fire regimes.
The committee heard that 'threats typically interact in complex, cumulative and
As the Director of National Parks warned:
There is a risk of perverse outcomes arising from
biodiversity interventions, meaning that actions to protect a given species may
unknowingly come at the expense of others or at the expense of overall
The Director gave the example of successful program to control foxes in
Booderee National Park, which has 'has seen the recovery in populations of
threatened or significant species known to be at risk from fox predation'.
However, the Director reported that there have been 'unanticipated declines' in
the park's populations of arboreal marsupials since fox baiting. It was thought
this may have been an unexpected consequence, possibly in part through
increases in populations of two owl species (themselves the subject of
A similar example raised was the complex relationship between dingoes
and other feral animals.
It was revealed to the committee that there is 'increasing evidence' that 'taking
dingoes and foxes out of an environment then leads to an increase in feral cat
Indeed, WWF-Australia suggested that stopping the suppression of dingoes and
other wild dogs might help to provide a 'more enduring biological form of
regulation' of feral cats, foxes, goats and pigs, rather than 'high cost
baiting programs that also affect native animals'.
The Director of National Parks concluded that, at least in relation to
national park management:
The potential for perverse outcomes demonstrates the need to
actively support research and monitoring programs that improve understanding of
The so-called 'legacy effect' creates additional challenges for
management and protection of threatened species and ecological communities. That
is, past actions will continue exert pressures on the environment into the
As Director of National Parks submitted:
...many of the most pressing threatening processes that operate
today are the result of deliberate or unintentional land-use and societal
decisions made long ago; historical land clearing and introduced invasive
species are prime examples.
As the Invasive Species Council commented, 'the majority of introduced
species already in Australia are yet to achieve the full extent of their potential
spread and density'.
The 2011 Commonwealth State of the Environment report notes that 'addressing
these legacy effects will be complex, long term and potentially expensive'.
Managing multiple threats
It was suggested that focussing on managing the threats common to many
threatened species might be a more effective approach than individual species
recovery planning. For example, Dr Andrew Burbidge told the committee that
Australia should 'focus on a small number of pervasive, key threats that affect
a large number of species and adequately resource these threats.'
He named cats, foxes and phytophthora as three key threats which require
significant research to resolve.
He suggested that they might require 'high-tech genetic engineering biological
technology science to solve them'.
Similarly, Zoos Victoria submitted that:
We would emphasize that many threatened species share common
threats (e.g. chytrid fungus impacting numerous frog species and predation on
small mammals and grounddwelling birds by foxes), and thus effective threat
management will benefit multiple threatened species and other biodiversity.
Mr Atticus Fleming from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy identified
feral animals and fire regimes as the two biggest threats and suggested that government
funding should focus on investing in on-ground projects to address those two
The Director of National Parks suggested that this was a good reason for
focussing on landscape scale approaches:
A significant number of the threats that face Australia's
biodiversity in our threatened species often occur at a wide landscape
scale—that is, things like fragmentation of habitat, invasive species, changes
in hydrology. Those types of things impact threatened species habitat across
the broader landscape.
The committee notes that landscape approaches are considered further in
Chapter 5 of this report.
However, the Director of National Parks also warned that 'simple
conclusions about species decline and potential causes need to be treated
The factors causing the decline of species, whether or not
they are listed as threatening, are often complex and not necessarily well
Some expressed despair at current success rates in relation to key
threats. For example, The Save the Bilby Fund felt that there are 'dishearteningly
few examples of threats to an existing threatened species being mitigated to
the extent that they no longer have a negative impact on that species'.
In the same vein, Ms Rachel Lowry from Zoos Victoria felt that 'the
threats that are actually driving the pressures on these species are very
rarely addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.'
In contrast, Professor Stephen Garnett from BirdLife Australia expressed
the view that 'Australia has been remarkably successful in many ways over the
last 20 years since it became conscious of threatened species'.
BirdLife Australia cited a number of success stories which have involved
managing or removing key threats.
However, BirdLife Australia and others also argued that sufficient resources
and funding to manage key threats is vital:
Funding must be adequate. If too little money is provided
then any gains are likely to be reversed rapidly or the knowledge obtained
about the threatened species will be inadequate to mitigate threats. This can
lead to an impression that funding spent on recovery activities have been
ineffective. Substantial funding over extended periods can result in an
improved status that can often be sustained with minimal input.
The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia also highlighted the successes
in threat abatement management programs in South Australia. The Society
submitted that, where programs to reduce feral goats and foxes have been in
place, there has been a significant increase in numbers of the yellow-footed
However, the Society also warned that ongoing funds will be needed:
...the areas where threats are currently managed only cover
approximately 30% of the known colonies... Due to the high mobility of both feral
goats and foxes and inability to completely eradicate them from the landscape,
ongoing funds will be required to maintain the biodiversity gains achieved and
protect previous investment.
Several submissions expressed concern that there is insufficient funding
for management actions to control threats to threatened species and
communities. And as Dr Burbidge observed, 'without adequate resourcing, the key
threats that affect a wide variety of Australian species will not be
The Invasive Species Council advised felt that management of invasive
species has generally been ineffective and uncoordinated. It submitted that 'to
stabilise and reduce environmental impacts of invasive species will require
addressing multiple weaknesses in Australia's biosecurity system'. Some of the concerns
highlighted by Invasive Species Council are discussed elsewhere in this report,
including the provisions for key threatening processes and funding issues.
However, SEWPAC pointed out that 'under Caring for Our Country, funding
is available for landscape-scale projects which aim to abate key threats to
biodiversity and protect various habitat types'. They gave the example of a $19
million investment made into Feral Camel Management project; $10 million to
combat decline in Tasmanian Devils; $200 million for 'Reef Rescue' to improve
water quality in the Great Barrier Reef which it argued would benefit
threatened species found within the Great Barrier Reef.
Funding in relation to threatened species protection and management is
discussed further in Chapter 6.
Mr Andrew Heaver observed that 'there remain substantial gaps in our
knowledge of threatening processes—gaps which, unless resolved, are likely to
hinder effective management.'
He was concerned that, for example, there has not been enough research relating
to the impacts of 'inappropriate' fire regimes on threatened animal species.
The Director of National Parks acknowledged:
Responding to biodiversity threats may require acting without
waiting for more complete knowledge. Inadequate information however can
compromise the effectiveness and success of management actions.
The need for further research and monitoring in relation to threatened
species and their management is discussed further in Chapter 6.
The Director of National Parks outlined a range of activities being
undertaken in the six national parks managed by Parks Australia to address key
threats to threatened species, including, for example, measures to control
invasive species and fire management programs as well as monitoring and
research programs to assess the effectiveness of these actions.
CSIRO told that committee that the Centre of Excellence in Environmental
has developed 'a recognized, multi-disciplinary science-based process for
decision making for management actions for biodiversity conservation':
This process is based on structured decision making and
systematic conservation planning. In Australia this process has been applied
successfully to management actions around key threats and threatening processes
for listed species in the Kimberley, and is now the focus of a much larger CSIRO
study for the Pilbara where the inclusion of threats to listed ecological
communities is also being considered...This process can help to integrate the
management of specific threats such as particular feral predators with
landscape processes like fire and grazing management.
CSIRO suggested that this approach should be used for prioritising
threat management of listed species and ecological communities:
Currently, most management outcomes tend to relate to the use
of fire management, reduced grazing management and reducing the threats caused
by non-native feral pest animals, weeds and diseases. With broad recognition of
the key threat feral animals and weeds (e.g. buffel grass) pose to many listed
species and increasing recognition that many of the impacts of such species
will be exacerbated under climate change, most management options of the
threats to particular listed species and communities tend to focus around the
management of the impacts of these invasive species.... A structured decision
making process could be more broadly applied to ensure long-term improvements
in management decisions.
Citing the examples of climate change and historic vegetation clearing,
SEWPAC observed that 'abating all threats affecting threatened species is not
always feasible or an efficient use of scarce conservation resources'.
However, it submitted that the department is 'pursuing a strategic, prioritised
and multi-pronged approach to mitigate threats to species and biodiversity'.
Listing key threatening processes and threat abatement planning
As outlined in Chapter 1, the EPBC Act provides for the identification
and listing of 'key threatening processes'. Once a threatening process is
listed, a threat abatement plan (TAP) may be put into place if it is
shown to be 'a feasible, effective and efficient way' to abate the threatening
process. Threat abatement plans establish 'a framework to guide and coordinate
Australia's response to the impact of a key threatening process'.
They must provide for the research, management, and any other actions necessary
to reduce the impact of a listed key threatening process on native species and
As of April 2013, at the Commonwealth level, there were 20 listed key
threatening processes and 13 approved threat abatement plans in place under the
EPBC Act. These are set out in the table below.
Table 5: Listed key threatening processes and threat abatement
plans (TAP) in place under the EPBC Act
Listed Key Threatening Process
TAP/date of TAP
and land degradation by rabbits
and land degradation by unmanaged goats
caused by the root-rot fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi)
2001. And a draft TAP open for comment in 2013.
catch (bycatch) of Sea Turtle during coastal otter-trawling operations within
Australian waters north of 28 degrees South
catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations
of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis
and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or
entanglement in, harmful marine debris
of northern Australia by Gamba Grass and other introduced grasses
and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped
garden plants, including aquatic plants.
of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity following invasion by the Yellow
Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean
by Action Plan for Invasive Ants on Christmas Island and TAP for 'tramp ants',
of climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases
biota and their impact on biodiversity
by European red fox
by exotic rats on Australian offshore islands of less than 1000 km2
by feral cats
Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs
Circoviral (beak and feather) Disease affecting endangered psittacine species
biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by Cane Toads (Bufo
reduction in the biodiversity of Australian native fauna and flora due to the
red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (fire ant)
by TAP for 'tramp ants', 2006.
The committee notes that this list largely reflects the evidence received
during this inquiry of the key threats to threatened species and ecological
communities—with the exception perhaps of inappropriate fire regimes.
The focus of this report is on key threatening processes and threat
abatement planning under the EPBC Act. However, it is noted that several states
and territories also keep lists of key threatening processes. In relation to
other jurisdictions, ANEDO submitted that:
Identifying key threats to listed species and communities is
fundamentally important and yet no State or Territory currently has a
comprehensive list of threats legally recognised.
The relevant laws in jurisdictions such as NSW, Tasmania and
the Commonwealth recognise and provide for the listing of key threatening
processes and making of threat abatement plans. Other states, such as South
Australia and Western Australia do not have any specific legislative provisions
to list threats or to guide threat abatement that may be undertaken.
ANEDO further observed that even in jurisdictions which have legal
provisions to formally recognise threats, 'key provisions are often
discretionary...time frames for action and performance indicators are largely
absent across Australia'.
Key threatening processes: the
nomination and listing process
The listing process for key threatening processes (KTPs) under the EPBC
Act was criticised by submitters for being ineffective, lacking in transparency
and/or too slow.
For example, Professor Woinarski believed that:
The practice of naming under legislation Key Threatening
Processes is of limited effectiveness, and the policy framework within which
amelioration of those KTPs is addressed is ill-conceived and largely
The Invasive Species Council felt that the capacity to declare KTPs and
develop threat abatement plans under the EPBC Act 'has potential to be a major
tool for addressing abating invasive species threats but is currently failing
In terms of the slow listing process, analysis from the Invasive Species
Council indicated that it takes, on average, 1.8 years to assess a key
threatening process and 3.7 years to develop a threat abatement plan—an overall
total of around six years.
Similarly, HSI advised that many of its nominations for KTPs had taken
'at least three years from submission date to listing' and that one of its
nominations, submitted in October 2005, 'is still under consideration by the
Minister with a decision on the outcome repeatedly delayed and now scheduled
for early 2013, eight years later'.
The Invasive Species Council also criticised the nomination process as
'demanding' in terms of the work involved to compile the evidence required. The
Council further told the committee that it had made two nominations which had been
rejected. It felt that, in its experience, 'nominations are rejected for no
legislatively valid reason and typically with no reasons provided'.
The Invasive Species Council concluded:
Under the current opaque and underfunded arrangements, ISC
won't make any further nominations because it has been a waste of scarce
community time and resources. There should be a much more systematic approach
to KTP listings to ensure that the major threats requiring national focus are
recognised and acted on.
The Invasive Species Council recommended that listing of KTPs needs to
more systematic to 'properly reflect' the threats to biodiversity and TAPs be
developed on a prioritised basis.
The committee notes that recommendation 19 of the Hawke review, which
was accepted by the government, included to amend the EPBC Act to better define
KTPs; allow greater flexibility in the criteria for eligibility for listing a
KTP; and allow strategic identification of KTPs at a range of scales.
In terms of a more strategic approach to KTPs, the committee notes that,
in February 2013, 'novel biota' was listed as a 'Key Threatening Process' under
the EPBC Act to capture all invasive species. The term 'novel biota' refers to
organisms that are new to an ecosystem whether by natural or human
introduction, and therefore covers most invasive species.
The KTP listing covers six major groups of novel biota that are impacting on
- competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by
- competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by
- competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by terrestrial
- competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by aquatic weeds
- competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by
marine pests; and
- mortality, habitat loss and degradation caused by pathogens.
The 'novel biota' listing therefore captures all existing KTPS listed
under the EPBC Act.
The committee notes that threat abatement 'guidelines' have been developed for
the novel biota KTP listing. These guidelines state that since the advent of
the EPBC Act, many novel biota have been nominated for listing as a KTP, and:
...the list has grown so large that individual evaluations
could divert the Government's attention and resources for many years. Despite a
wide range of legislation, plans, strategies and initiatives, the impacts of
novel biota on Australian ecosystems are increasing.
The current state legislative and management arrangements
make timely and effective action cumbersome and unwieldy. If this continues,
more species and ecological communities will be affected and the task of
management will become more difficult.
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee)
considers that there is a lack of consistent mechanisms for setting priorities
to abate the threats posed by novel biota. Accordingly, the Committee proposes
that all novel biota should be seen as a real or potential threat to native
biodiversity, and that a new planning framework should be developed to integrate
the responses to different species.
However, this listing was criticised by the Invasive Species Council.
Dr Booth from the Invasive Species Council explained that two of their nominations
for invasive species KTPs were rejected because they would be covered by the
'novel biota' KTP.
Dr Booth explained that their concern was that this 'one all-embracing listing'
would not result in a threat abatement plan which would be 'completely useless'.
At the same time, the Invasive Species Council suggested that the listing could
be used 'as the basis for developing, on a prioritised basis, multiple Threat
Abatement Plans to address invasive species threats where these plans provide a
feasible way to address threats'.
Threat abatement planning
Listing of a key threatening process does not always result in the development
of a threat abatement plan: sometimes a decision is made not to have a
threat abatement plan, which some felt can make a KTP listing 'a bit
SEWPAC advised that:
Threat abatement plans are underpinned by strong science and
are important tools for raising public awareness about key threats to
biodiversity, and best practice strategies and techniques to abate those
However, several submissions lamented the slow development of threat
abatement plans, as well as their lack of funding and implementation (and their
equivalents at the state or territory level).
For example, HSI submitted that once KTPs are listed:
...the subsequent development of threat abatement plans, where
these are required to be developed, is also a slow process which further delays
implementation or amelioration of the threats on the ground.
The Invasive Species Council was also critical of the slow development
and poor implementation of threat abatement plans:
When the Environment Minister does agree to develop a TAP, as
well as taking an average of close to four years to develop, they are often
poorly implemented. There is no regular review of progress made on goals and
actions and TAPs are often left to languish long after their intended 5 year
review date – presumably due to a lack of resources (there are currently seven
TAPs > 5 years old). In most plans there is very little community
involvement except through a formal consultation process.
The Invasive Species Council concluded by recommending that sufficient
funding be provided for assessment of KTPs and development of TAPs.
In terms of implementation and funding for threat abatement planning, the
Invasive Species Council noted that threat abatement plans often depend on
'competitive short‑term, project-specific grants programs. There is no
TAP-specific funding stream and no guaranteed funding for any TAP priorities'.
Despite these criticisms, Dr Booth of the Invasive Species Council nevertheless
supported the concept of threat abatement planning:
...we would really like to see the key threatening process
play a substantial role in addressing invasive species threats. The only way of
addressing a lot of these threats is to do what threat abatement planning is
meant to do, which is to bring together the players, agree on a plan, identify
the priorities and then start implementing the actions that are needed to
address these threats.
Dr Burbidge expressed the view that the current responses to listings
of 'Key Threatening Processes' are 'inadequate'. He gave two examples:
Listings of threats such as 'Dieback caused by the root-rot fungus
(Phytophthora cinnamomi)' and 'Predation by feral cats' (both major, insidious
and ongoing threats to large numbers of species) have not resulted in
significant, targeted scientific research funding or large-scale adaptive
management projects to ameliorate the threats...There are attempts to manage
these threats, but they are local and poorly resourced.
Two submitters were highly critical of the lack of implementation of the
threat abatement plan for Psittacine Circoviral (beak and feather) Disease,
claiming that 'very little has been achieved in mitigating this threat'. It was
alleged that twelve years after the adoption of the threat abatement plan, the
five major objects of the plan 'have not been met'.
It was further remarked that the Working Group has not met since 2009; very few
of the actions recommended in the plan have been carried out, and that the plan
is overdue for review.
In contrast, evidence was received of success stories in the listing of
KTPs and development and implementation of threat abatement plans. Perhaps the
most notable is measures taken by the fishing industry as a result of the
listed KTP 'Incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline
fishing operations' and the associated threat abatement plan.
HSI argued that:
Without the TAP driving things, it is doubtful tuna longline
fisheries would have made any effort to mitigate their devastating impact on
endangered albatross and petrels...
Island Conservation discussed the listing of exotic rodents on islands
as a KTP and the related threat abatement plan, and submitted that 'Australia
is a world leader in the eradication of invasive species from islands at risk
Where plans are implemented, the need for ongoing monitoring and
evaluation of the threat abatement actions was emphasised in many submissions.
For example, the National Parks Association of NSW felt that there is a
need to increase accountability in terms of monitoring or reporting on the
success of management actions taken in relation to threatened species, such as
under threat abatement plans.
The Invasive Species Council recommended that a review be undertaken of
the effectiveness of TAPs over the past decade, assessing the extent to which
actions have been implemented and the goals achieved.
In response to criticisms about the slow development of TAPs, SEWPAC
pointed to subsection 273(4) of the EPBC Act, which specifies that a TAP for a
key threatening process must be made and in force within three years of the
decision to have the plan. SEWPAC further advised that, when developing a plan,
...analyses new data, research and recent publications, and
consults at length with experts from state agencies and research institutions
in order that the draft plan reflects the most recent scientific knowledge and
best practice management techniques. Having developed a draft plan, there are
significant statutory prerequisites to finalising it. The Minister must:
- consult with the appropriate
Minister of each state and territory in which the key threatening process
occurs and take their views into account;
- obtain and consider the advice of
the TSSC; and
- consider comments received during
a three month public consultation period and revise the plan to take account of
those comments as necessary.
SEWPAC further noted that it is moving to develop 'threat abatement advices',
at the time of listing a key threatening process, in line with the
recommendations of the Hawke review. Threat abatement advices will:
...complement threat abatement plans by providing immediate
guidance upon the listing of a key threatening process, and which can be
updated as needed to reflect the most recent research outcomes and best
practice in on-ground management.
SEWPAC further advised that proposed amendments to the EPBC Act:
...envisage a more flexible approach to threat abatement
planning, particularly to allow for their development and implementation at
SEWPAC also remarked that, although the EPBC Act has not yet been
amended, threat abatement guidelines are being prepared for some key
threatening processes—for example, the listing advice for 'novel biota and its
impact on biodiversity'.
In relation to the implementation of threat abatement plans, SEWPAC
informed the committee that:
Threat abatement plans are not funding programs. A threat
abatement plan establishes a framework to guide and coordinate Australia’s
response to the impact of a key threatening process. It enables all
stakeholders to make informed investment in agreed national priorities for
research, management and on-ground actions. The funding available to the
department for threat abatement action is strategically applied to the highest
priority areas across all threat abatement plans. Additional funds are
available to stakeholders via the government programs Caring for our Country
and the Biodiversity Fund, both of which have identified invasive species as a
Other mechanisms for dealing with
key threatening processes
Another suggested mechanism, at least for dealing with invasive species,
was the development and implementation of regulations under section 301A of the
EPBC Act. This section provides for the establishment of a list of
species, other than native species, that are likely to threaten biodiversity in
Australia. Those species may be regulated or prohibited from being brought into
Australia, or from being traded.
The Invasive Species Council argued that section 301A could be 'used to
address in part the threats of several of the listed key threatening processes,
in particular, escaped nursery plants'. 
The committee notes that this committee's predecessor, the Environment,
Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee,
recommended in its 2004 report relating to invasive species that the
Commonwealth, in consultation with the states and territories, promulgate
regulations under section 301A of the EPBC Act to prohibit the trade in
invasive plant species of national importance.
The government response to that report disagreed with that recommendation,
stating that 'the Australian government considers that in the first instance
states and territories should improve the management and control of weeds
within their jurisdictions'.
The Invasive Species Council pointed out that:
The federal government has the capacity under the EPBC Act to
regulate harmful activities involving invasive species but chooses not to use
The Hawke review has also considered the potential for the use of 301A,
and noted that:
...while the exercise of this power [to make regulations] may
help to manage the impact of invasive species, a compliance system
incorporating state border controls would be required to make it
effective...Although the compliance aspects of s.301A may be problematic, this
provision provides an opportunity to create a new, targeted list of
'controlled' species, with the objective to regulate and/or prohibit actions
involving non-native species that appear on this list. This could enable more
effective interventions for some of the invasive species that are listed as
The Hawke review concluded that there may be value in exploring the
potential use of s.301A in managing post-border regulation of invasive species.
The review then recommended that COAG:
...develop criteria and management protocols for the movement
of potentially damaging exotic species between States and Territories, working
towards a list of 'controlled' species for which cost-effective risk-mitigation
measures may be implemented...
The Commonwealth government agreed in part to this recommendation. The
response noted that the draft Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity [now
finalised] 'provides a basis for further consideration of criteria and
management protocols that might apply thought regulations developed under
The committee notes that the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity
was finalised in January 2012
and that the Biosecurity Bill 2012 and the Inspector-General of Biosecurity
Bill 2012 are the subject of a separate inquiry by the Senate Standing
Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport.
However, the Invasive Species Council noted that the biosecurity legislation
does not address the post-border issues.
The committee acknowledges the evidence received in relation to key
threats to Australia's threatened species and ecological communities, including
habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation; invasive species; disease; climate
change; and inappropriate fire regimes. The committee also recognises that the
full impacts of the consequences of past practices, including historical land
clearing and introduced invasive species, are still to be realised in many
In terms of habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, the committee
acknowledges the evidence received that the introduction of legislation to
regulate vegetation clearing in many state and territories may have made a big
impact. The committee also notes that its recommendations in other chapters,
relating for example, to critical habitat (see Chapter 5) and development
assessment processes, including cumulative impacts and biodiversity offsets
(see Chapter 7) also address the issues of habitat loss.
In relation to invasive species, the committee recognises the success of
certain activities, including predator proof sanctuaries and baiting programs,
as well as some threat abatement plans. The committee acknowledges the recent
decision to list 'novel biota' as an overarching key threatening process, along
with associated threat abatement guidelines. The committee hopes that this will
prove to be a more strategic approach to improve management and control of
invasive species, and will result in the development of an integrated planning
framework to respond to invasive species.
The committee also recognises the success of many predator proof
sanctuaries in helping to protect and recover threatened species. The committee
considers that the department should give high priority to island sanctuaries –
both mainland and offshore—when developing action plans and allocating funding.
The committee recommends that, in developing action plans, and
allocating program funding, the Department of Sustainability, Environment,
Water, Population and Communities consider greater use of predator exclusion
fences and other forms of 'mainland island sanctuaries' for threatened species.
The committee particularly acknowledges the evidence of the importance
of islands for many threatened species, and in particular, the need to
prioritise biosecurity measures on island sanctuaries.
The committee recommends that the Department of Sustainability,
Environment, Water, Population and Communities develop clear biosecurity
strategies as part of action plans to protect island sanctuaries.
The committee also notes the evidence that environmental biosecurity
needs to be given greater priority across the Australian mainland. In this
context, the committee was convinced of the need to increase environmental
biosecurity arrangements within Australian borders. The committee received
evidence that use could be made of section 301A of the EPBC Act, to regulate
the trade within Australia of certain 'controlled' species, such as invasive
plant species. This could be based on the Intergovernmental Agreement on
Biosecurity, the Australian Weeds Strategy and the List of Weeds of National
Significance. As recommended by the Hawke review, COAG should also be involved
in this process, including developing criteria and management protocols for the
movement of potentially damaging exotic species between states and territories,
working towards a list of 'controlled' species for which cost-effective
risk-mitigation measures may be implemented.
The committee recommends that the Department of Sustainability,
Environment, Water, Population and Communities develop regulations under
section 301A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act 1999 for the regulation of controlled invasive plant species
within Australia. The Council of Australian Governments should be involved in
the process, to ensure that these measures are developed in consultation with
state and territory governments.
The committee is concerned by evidence that there are limited control
methods for some invasive species, such as feral cats. The committee
acknowledges the evidence of the department in this regard, and commends the
department for 'putting significant investment into the development of a broad
scale toxic bait for feral cats'.
The committee commends the department for this work, and suggests specific
research strategies be developed in conjunction with relevant research
institutions, such as the CSIRO and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research
Centre, to develop biological controls for feral cats and other high impact
The committee recommends that the Department of Sustainability,
Environment, Water, Population and Communities develop specific research strategies
in conjunction with relevant research institutions, such as the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Invasive Animals
Cooperative Research Centre, to develop biological controls for feral cats and
other high impact invasive species.
The committee is also persuaded by evidence that more research needs to
be done in a range of areas relating to key threats – such the interaction of
key threats; the impact of inappropriate fire regime on threatened species; and
developing more effective control methods for invasive species such as
biological control agents and sterilisation agents.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government target more
environmental research funding and programs towards effective control methods
for invasive species.
The committee also acknowledges concerns raised in relation to the
threat of disease to Australia's native species and the need for an improved
approach to wildlife disease management. For this reason, the committee
suggests that the TSSC consider listing wildlife disease as an overarching key
threatening process in the same way it has listed 'novel biota'.
The committee recommends that the Threatened Species Scientific
Committee considers listing 'wildlife disease' as an overarching key
threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999.
The committee recognises the need to consider and incorporate the
potential impacts of climate change in all decision-making relating to threatened
species and ecological communities. The committee also notes the evidence that
climate change is likely to exacerbate the other threats to threatened species
and ecological communities. In this context, the committee acknowledges
SEWPAC's evidence that climate change is considered where relevant in recovery
and threat abatement planning. The committee also notes that there are a number
of other government initiatives which may help address this issue, such as the National
Wildlife Corridors Plan (discussed elsewhere in this report).
In terms of the processes to address key threats to threatened species
and ecological communities under the EPBC Act, the committee notes the evidence
of the slow process for the listing of key threatening processes and
development of threat abatement plans.
The committee welcomes the evidence from SEWPAC that is now developing 'threat
abatement advices' at the time of listing key threatening processes. The
committee considers that this may help address some of these concerns about the
slow development of threat abatement plans, by providing some immediate
guidance at the time of listing. The committee also notes SEWPAC's evidence
that threat abatement advices 'can be updated as needed to reflect the most
recent research outcomes and best practice in on-ground management'.
The committee believes it is essential that both threat abatement plans
and threat abatement advices are funded, implemented, monitored and reviewed as
effectively as possible. At the same time, threat abatement plans also need to
be deliverable and achievable, as is the case with recovery plans, and be
developed with an appreciation of the potential resources available to support
their implementation. As with recovery plans, it is also important to ensure
that threat abatement plans contain achievable and measurable targets against
which their effectiveness can be measured.
The committee recommends that all threat abatement plans contain realistic,
measurable targets against which their effectiveness can be measured.
In this context, the committee is concerned by the evidence received
about the lack of funding and implementation of some threat abatement plans. It
was clear to the committee that adequate resources and funding are required,
especially for the implementation of threat abatement plans and advices. This
is discussed in further detail in Chapter 6, where the committee recommends
that the Commonwealth government adjust existing funding programs, such as the
Caring for our Country program and the Biodiversity Fund, to ensure that there
is dedicated funding for threatened species and ecological communities,
including for activities identified in threat abatement plans and advices.
The committee was also troubled by evidence that many threat abatement
plans have not been reviewed, despite the requirement under subsection 279(2)
of the EPBC Act that plans be reviewed at intervals of no longer than five
years. The committee recommends that the department conduct a review of all
threat abatement plans older than five years. The committee suggests that this
review should include an evaluation of the extent to which actions identified
in those plans have been implemented, and the success of those actions. The
review should be completed within the next five years and at subsequent
intervals of not more than five years. The reports on this evaluation should be
made publicly available.
The committee recommends that the Department of Sustainability,
Environment, Water, Population and Communities conduct a review of all threat
abatement plans older than five years. This review should include an evaluation
of the extent to which actions identified in those plans have been implemented,
and the success of those actions. The review should be completed within the
next five years and subsequent reviews should be undertaken at not less than
five yearly intervals. The reports of these reviews should be made publicly
available on the website of the Department of Sustainability, Environment,
Water, Population and Communities.
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