Koala and joey on log © Shutterstock / KAMONRAT / WWF

Koala and joey on log © Shutterstock / KAMONRAT / WWF

New report card grades every federal electorate for threatened species recovery

07 Sep 2022

Keywords
  • environmental laws
  • threatened species
  • Regenerate Australia
Australia scores an ‘F’ overall; click on wwf.org.au/mybackyard to see the grade for your area.

38 federal electorates achieved a D grade, 112 an E, and one seat could only manage an F grade.
A new report, released as a preprint, scores threatened species recovery across the nation and gives Australia an overall grade of ‘F’ – the worst possible score.

“Our new method for developing a report card exposes the extent to which Australia is failing our threatened species,” said co-lead author Dr Michelle Ward, a conservation scientist with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.

The report card assesses four indicators - proportion of species with recovery plans, proportion of species with federal funding, proportion of habitat protected*, and proportion of species with an improved threat status.

To coincide with National Threatened Species Day (7 September), scientists have used this data to assign a grade for every federal seat, which is available in My Backyard, an interactive tool which launched today and is hosted on WWF-Australia’s website at https://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/my-backyard.

Users can enter their location and explore which threatened species could live in their area, discover some interesting facts about them, and learn how their federal seat rates for recovering those species.

There’s also an option for people to email their local federal MP to express concern.

“The results are alarming: all electorates achieved an F grade for threat status improvement, whereas for recovery plans and funding one electorate achieved a D grade, 121 achieved a E, and 29 achieved an F,” said Dr Ward.

“When we analysed electorates for habitat protection, we found that 74 electorates achieved an A, 61 achieved a B, 15 achieved a C, and one achieved a D grade.

“When we average all the indicators evenly, 38 federal electorates achieved a D grade, 112 an E, and one seat – Durack – could only manage an F grade.

“This is because Durack had the lowest proportions of adequate species habitat protection and the lowest proportion of species with dedicated funding.

“I think people will be shocked by the plight of species in their area and the scale of the extinction crisis we are facing.

“I encourage everyone to click on My Backyard, check out the grade for the species in their electorate, and let your federal representative know we need to do better. Regenerating Australia starts with saving our threatened species,” Dr Ward said.

Co-lead author Dr Tracy Rout, a conservation analyst with WWF-Australia, said ramping up action on threatened species could prevent a future nobody wants.

"Without an immediate change in how Australia chooses to address its species crisis, we will leave a tragic legacy of extinction and fail our obligations to future generations of Australians, and the international community,” Dr Rout said.

“MPs have a responsibility for stewardship of the threatened species living in their electorate and we hope these scores highlight the need for MPs to advocate for greater protection of threatened species federally,” she said.

The threatened species report card also grades species recovery at the scale of states and territories and local government areas.

The Australian Capital Territory achieved the highest grades for its species, because it had the highest proportion of species habitat protection and the highest proportion of species with dedicated federal government funding.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory were second and third, driven by habitat protection.

Western Australia came last because very few species have recovery plans, and it had the lowest proportion of species with adequate protection, and the lowest proportion of species with funding.

Across 547 local government areas, all received an F for the outcome indicator. The three local government areas with species in most need of recovery action were Victoria Plains (Western Australia), Wongan-Ballidu (Western Australia), and Moora (Western Australia).

These local government areas rated poorly because no species improved in threat status, there was poor coverage of recovery planning and drastically inadequate funding committed to assist threatened species recovery.

The My Backyard tool

The My Backyard interactive tool is enabled by WWF with support from The University of Queensland and The Queensland University of Technology.

The My Backyard tool is launching with information on the following 24 threatened species: Australasian bittern, greater glider, koala, grey-headed flying fox, brush-tailed rock wallaby, regent honeyeater, silver-headed antechinus, southern brown bandicoot, Carnaby’s cockatoo, giant burrowing frog, golden sun moth, green and golden bell frog, green turtle, long-nosed potoroo, northern quoll, numbat, quokka, Tasmanian devil, woylie, mallefowl, swift parrot, eastern quoll, spotted-tail quoll, and the western swamp tortoise.

With additional funding and support, the My Backyard tool will build to include information on all threatened species, so that all Australians are armed with the information needed to give every species a fighting chance.

Users may be surprised to learn that bushland and forests near cities are home to some of Australia’s most threatened species with research indicating that nearly 380 nationally-listed threatened species occur in urban areas across the country.

The My Backyard tool is part of WWF-Australia’s Regenerate Australia program.

About Regenerate Australia
WWF’s 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 changing climate. Find out more and help Regenerate Australia at www.wwf.org.au/regenerate-australia

* Each threatened species has a unique target for how much habitat should be in a protected area. The habitat protected indicator measures the proportion of the habitat protection target that exists for each species, and assigns a score averaged across all species in an electorate.

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