Proposal to Swap National Threatened Species Plans with Conservation Advice

Have your say on proposed changes

1 October 2021

The Commonwealth Government is considering rewriting the protections afforded to our most at-risk species by proposing to replace almost 200 recovery plans for threatened species or ecological communities with conservation advice.

Wildlife Queensland acknowledges that conservation advice and recovery plans are both useful tools for assisting the recovery of a species; however, conservation advice lacks the legislative power of a recovery plan. One potential victim of this ‘downgrade’ could be the endangered spectacled flying fox, which is already facing extreme threat in north Queensland.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), more than 1900 threatened species and ecological communities are listed – recovery plans are currently required for 914, and the onus is on the Minister for the Environment to ensure that occurs. It would be concerning if the proposed measure was to relieve the Minister of the day of a breach of the EPBC Act, rather than out of genuine concern for the ongoing survival of threatened species.

Too long gone?

The argument put forward by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee is that some recovery plans are simply not working, take a long time to develop, and are better replaced with conservation advice that is fit-for-purpose and provides practical methods for conveying the recovery needs of the species or ecological community to all stakeholders more swiftly.

Wildlife Queensland must agree that many recovery plans fail to achieve the desired outcomes, but unless a plan is appropriately funded, responsibility and accountability are assigned and accepted, progress is monitored and audited, and political will and support exist, any plan is unlikely to succeed.

Wildlife Queensland is of the view that recovery plans do work when all of the aforementioned stipulations are met – the bridled nail-tail wallaby is one such success story. Why further weaken the EPBC Act when most aspects of that Act actually require strengthening not watering down?

Sticking to the plan

The proposed changes are currently out for comment and Wildlife Queensland will be making a submission and further elaborating on key matters of concern later this month. Meanwhile, recovery plans continue to be developed for species or ecological communities that face complex threats or for those which the Minister had already determined required an updated or new recovery plan.

Submissions close on the 2nd November 2021, so Wildlife Queensland urges all conservationists and wildlife-lovers to voice their opinion by:

  • completing the online survey at Have Your Say 
  • Emailing
  • Writing to:
    Protected Species and Communities Branch
    Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
    GPO Box 858

Wildlife matters, and we must all continue to be the voice for threatened ecological communities and species that require efficient long-term planning in order to survive and thrive.

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