The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has congratulated Anthony Albanese and Labor on victory in the federal election and urged him to deliver greater protection for koalas, forests and the Great Barrier Reef in his first year of government.
WWF-Australia will submit a brief to the incoming government that sets out the policies required to Regenerate Australia and safeguard our most vulnerable wildlife and wild places.
Chief Conservation Officer, Rachel Lowry said WWF looked forward to working with the Prime Minister and his team and urged them to act quickly on their promise to reform Australia’s nature laws.
“Australia’s wildlife and wild places are on a dangerous trajectory,” said Ms Lowry.
“Every year more species join our threatened species list than come off it. The EPBC Act is failing to protect wildlife habitat and iconic animals such as the koala are edging closer to extinction.
“The incoming government must deliver a new generation of nature laws in its first year, including a suite of strong national standards enshrined in law and a well-resourced independent regulator to enforce them.”
With more than 1,700 native species known to be threatened and at risk of extinction, Ms Lowry said the Prime Minister’s team should also commit to a national target to halt extinctions.
“Halting extinctions is achievable. Other developed countries have already made this commitment,” she said.
“Labor’s election pledge of $225 million for threatened species is a good start, but we must also invest in time-bound recovery plans for every threatened species to stop extinctions. Currently, less than 40% of Australia’s threatened species have a recovery plan.”
Ms Lowry also urged the new government to transition Australia into a world leader in forest protection and reforestation.
“Eastern Australia is now the only global deforestation hotspot in the developed world,” she said.
“This cannot continue. We need our new government to transition Australia away from bulldozing and logging forests towards reforestation and plantations and follow through on its pledge to protect at least 30% of every ecosystem on the land and sea by 2030. This is achievable if we expand our protected area footprint, including Indigenous Protected Areas.”
Ms Lowry also called for the new government to increase Australia’s ambition on climate and renewable energy to give natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance.
“The Great Barrier Reef has just suffered its fourth mass coral bleaching event since 2016 and bleaching has now been detected within the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area,” she said.
“We must take real action to drive down emissions this decade to give the Reef a future.
“The good news is Australia has all the right ingredients to do this and become a renewable export superpower. We have enough clean energy resources to power the entire nation, and still have plenty leftover to sell to our neighbours.
“However, seizing this potential will require government leadership and a national renewable exports strategy. This would catalyse Australia’s transition to a low emissions economy, creating jobs, lowering emissions and helping to future proof our economy.”
About Regenerate Australia
Regenerate Australia is the largest and most innovative wildlife recovery and landscape regeneration program 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 a changing climate.