The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021

Posted on 07 September 2011
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021
© WWF-Australia Enlarge
WWF has released a report outlining exactly what is required to recover 21 of Australia’s most iconic and threatened species.

Kangaroos, wallabies and their relatives, collectively known as macropods, are some of the most recognised animals in the world, but almost half of Australia’s 50 species may be threatened with extinction.

“The Action Plan for Threatened Australian Macropods is a road map to recovery for some of Australia’s most loved icons,” WWF Threatened Species Manager Michael Roache said. “It outlines all of the actions required to recover Australia’s threatened kangaroo and wallaby species, including the location, cost and effort of those actions.

“We estimate that to recover all 21 species over the next ten years will cost about $290 million. While this figure may at first glance appear very high, it is important to note that of the millions of dollars already spent on these and other threatened species over the years, very few of them are ever taken off threatened species lists,” said Roache.

“Over the last 15 years, only one species of macropod has improved its threat status based on genuine changes in population: the boodie or burrowing bettong. Part of the problem is that we tend to spend the little funding available on whatever actions are the most obvious, or on the most pressing issue at the time. But without investing in the recovery program in full, we will not save these species.”

“If we continue to fund species recovery at a tiny fraction of what is required, we will see an inevitable decline in some of this country’s most recognisable species, and probably contribute to their untimely extinction,” Roache said.

“This action plan offers an alternative scenario – far more promising and entirely achievable. It demonstrates that in 10 years we can achieve significant recovery of these 21 species, and by applying the same principles, all of Australia’s threatened species. But the report is more than a scenario - it's a call for action. However, we must start now.

“Since European settlement, seven of 57 species of macropod have become extinct, and without targeted and objective investment in species recovery, this number may rise.”

While the Australian Government has recently reiterated its plans to focus on the recovery of landscapes and ecosystems, the WWF report argues that dedicated species recovery is an essential part of environmental management.

“If you look at parts of northern Australia, we have intact landscapes, but the species are disappearing, even in Kakadu National Park. Without fully-funded recovery programs, we are destined to be an ambulance service for threatened species, only responding to the emergency calls. This plan argues for a systemic upgrade to the healthcare plan for these species, focusing on preventative care as well as treatment.”

The Action Plan for Threatened Australian Macropods outlines a systematic, transparent, repeatable and objective method achieving species recovery. The report contains detailed analysis of the requirements of each species to achieve down-listing on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species within 10 years. The same process could be applied to all of Australia’s threatened species to determine the true nature and cost of recovering our threatened species.

The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021
© WWF-Australia Enlarge