A new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia reveals more than 1500 of Australia’s unique ecosystems, both on land and sea, fall outside Australia’s protected areas.
This news comes as Cop15 has commenced in Kunming, China. The two-part UN Biodiversity Conference is seeking to finalise a landmark pact to protect at least 30% of the planet's land and oceans by 2030.
WWF’s Building Nature’s Safety Net 2020 report, released today, details that 1,542 terrestrial ecosystems and 115 marine ecosystems are not represented in any of Australia’s protected areas.
Rachel Lowry, WWF-Australia’s chief conservation officer, said these protected area gaps are a compelling reason for Australia to support the Cop15 targets.
“The Australian Government should commit to a global and domestic target to protect 30% of land and 30% of oceans by 2030,” Ms Lowry said.
So far, Australia is supporting the global ’30 by 30’ goal but has only publicly committed to protecting a ‘combined’ 30% of domestic land and ocean by 2030.
“Australia is a prosperous nation with the means to meet the full target. Supporting an international target yet failing to commit to it domestically is a double standard. It risks putting pressure on less wealthy nations while declining to do what is right at home,” Ms Lowry said.
“Nations such as the UK, US and Canada have all made commitments to protect 30% of both land and sea.
“More than 36% of Australia’s oceans and 19% of land are currently protected. Australia is falling behind other nations on land protection.
“However, if we pay attention to the science about where protection is needed most, and back this with the right political will, Australia is well placed to meet the global protection expectations on land by 2030,” she said.
WWF’s Building Nature’s Safety Net 2020 report highlights the importance of ensuring adequate protection of all bioregions, revealing that 58 terrestrial bioregions and 20 marine bioregions are below the target of 30% protected.
Under-protected bioregions are home to threatened species such as the koala and greater glider.
“Protected areas should be ecologically representative, well-connected, and effectively and equitably managed.
“It is not only how much we protect but what gets protected that will be critical if we are to save Australia’s threatened species.
“Indigenous Protected Areas play an important role in conserving biodiversity and funding for IPAs should be boosted,” Ms Lowry said.
The first part of Cop15 is a virtual meeting, from 11 to 15 October, with only China-based delegates attending Kunming in person. Part two will be a face-to-face conference in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022.
About Regenerate Australia
Regenerate Australia is the largest and most innovative wildlife recovery and landscape regeneration programs in Australia’s history. Launched by WWF-Australia in October 2020, the multi-year program will rehabilitate, repopulate and restore wildlife and habitats affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and help to future-proof Australia against the impacts of changing climate. Find out more at www.wwf.org.au/what-we-do/regenerate-australia.
Land and sea bioregions that have less than 10% of their area protected
The darker the tone the lower the percentage of protection