National Threatened Species Day: WWF calls on Prime Minister to stop weakening environment laws

Posted on 07 September 2012  | 
The orange-bellied parrot – reduced to less than 50 birds in the wild.
The orange-bellied parrot – reduced to less than 50 birds in the wild.
© Dejan Stojanovic Enlarge
On National Threatened Species Day, WWF is calling on the Prime Minister to stop the winding back of Australia’s environmental protection laws and provide greater security for our wild places and threatened wildlife.

National Threatened Species Day falls on September 7 each year and commemorates the day in 1936 when the last Tasmanian tiger died in a Hobart zoo.

© Dejan Stojanovic © Dejan Stojanovic © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon © Mark Jekabsons © Nathan Chan © Dick Walker / Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group © Dejan Stojanovic

“Australia’s environmental protection laws were put in place to stop the tragic loss of species, such as the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger,” said WWF-Australia Director of Conservation Dr Gilly Llewellyn.

“It’s now over 70 years since the last Tasmanian tiger died in captivity and we are witnessing the possible winding back of crucial environmental laws, which will leave our threatened species even more vulnerable to the impacts of major projects like dams, coal-ports, mines and greenfield housing developments.”

Dr Llewellyn said environmental laws were an essential element of a healthy society. They not only protect our fragile ecosystems, they also protect our health, our communities, our economy and future generations.

Australia has 55 extinct animal species, 42 extinct plants and 1694 nationally threatened species. Australian species currently on the Critically Endangered list include:

• The orange-bellied parrot – reduced to less than 50 birds in the wild;
• The eastern grey nurse shark – reduced to around 500 individuals left in the wild;
• The bridled nailtail wallaby – estimated to be between 400 and 600 left in the wild;
• The speartooth shark – reduced to less than 250 individuals in the wild;
• The Gilbert's potoroo – reduced to less than 50 individuals in the wild.

“In many cases our national environment laws have acted as the last line of defence against major industrial projects that have been pushed by the states,” Dr Llewellyn said.

“Now we see those threats emerging once again with the Prime Minister planning to hand over approval authority for developments that could affect our nationally listed species to the states. This would leave us without the last line of defence, which is the whole point of a federal system.

“For most of our native wildlife, the future isn’t looking bright and for many extinction is likely this century unless we provide greater protection.”

Images available on request

WWF-Australia contact:
Dr Martin Taylor, Conservation Science Manager, WWF-Australia, 0406 384 289
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592
The orange-bellied parrot – reduced to less than 50 birds in the wild.
The orange-bellied parrot – reduced to less than 50 birds in the wild.
© Dejan Stojanovic Enlarge

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