Coalition dropped recovery plans for 176 threatened species and habitats in one of its final acts | Wildlife

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Recovery plans designed to prevent the extinction of nearly 180 threatened species and habitats, including the Tasmanian devil, were scrapped by the Coalition in one of Sussan Ley’s last acts as environment minister.

Last year, the Morrison government proposed scrapping the requirement for a legislated plan for 185 plants, animals and habitats, including several plans that had been overdue for years.

In March, Ley endorsed decisions to remove this requirement for 176 of the species and habitats, with the decision being quietly released by the environment department after the election was called in April.

Ley made the decisions despite a call from the government for comments from 6,701 responses, all of whom disagreed with the proposal.

Wilderness Society director of policy and strategy, Tim Beshara, called the former minister’s decision “shameful” and said he hoped the new environment and water minister , Tanya Plibersek, would review it.

“On what kind of planet does the Commonwealth think it doesn’t need a recovery plan for a Tasmanian devil, one of the most ecologically important species, or the flying fox of Christmas Island, a species fully under Commonwealth control and one of Australia’s most likely next extinctions,” he said.

“I can’t think of a better way for incoming minister Tanya Plibersek to understand the political dysfunction rooted in her portfolio than through this example of administrative incompetence and disregard for the community.”

The requirement for a recovery plan is left to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment but, where such a requirement exists, Ministers are legally bound not to make decisions inconsistent with the plan.

Responding to Ley’s decision on Thursday, Plibersek said: “It is alarming. I asked my new department for an urgent briefing.

The proposal to scrap plans for nearly 200 plants and animals sparked an outcry from conservationists last year. It followed a review of recovery planning by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC).

Among the 176 are the critically endangered night oak, which was affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, the critically endangered Cumberland Plain forest, regularly cleared for development in the western Sydney, and several Christmas Island species, including the critically endangered Christmas Island flying fox.

In her published reasons for each decision, the minister said she took the advice of the scientific committee and felt that a recovery plan ‘would not provide a significant benefit for conservation planning’ over others. mechanisms already in place.

All affected species and habitats have what is called a conservation notice, which is a similar document but is not legally binding in the same way as recovery plans.

TSSC chair Helene Marsh has previously said recovery planning has been ineffective, with plans often unfunded and actions not implemented, and a conservation advisory can often be updated sooner afterward. emergencies such as bush fires.


Tanya Plibersek has to address these issues as a matter of urgency. #Mon4Kooyong #auspol https://t.co/oHevLwsHjf

— Dr Monique Ryan (@Mon4Kooyong) June 1, 2022n","url":"https://twitter.com/Mon4Kooyong/status/1532128008961568768","id":"1532128008961568768","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"6f5af23b-30b5-4489-b4da-19cba146daed"}}'>

While serving as environment minister, Sussan Ley showed complete disregard for endangered species – including our own. She failed to protect the future of our children.

Tanya Plibersek needs to address these issues urgently. #My4Kooyong #auspol https://t.co/oHevLwsHjf

— Dr. Monique Ryan (@Mon4Kooyong) June 1, 2022

Ahead of the election, the Labor Party pledged $224.5million for a national endangered species program that would include addressing a backlog of overdue and outdated recovery plans.

The appointment of Plibersek, one of Labor’s most experienced ministers, to the environment and water portfolio has been welcomed by conservation groups given the scale of reform that has been identified as needed to reverse Australia’s environmental decline.

This is not what Australians want and expect from the government. It’s time to release the long-awaited report on the state of the environment and get serious about protecting our incredible biodiversity.https://t.co/zE3lsT7V4a

— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) June 1, 2022

Sophie Power, of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said Ley’s decision was disappointing and the groups would resume with the new minister.

“We shouldn’t just give up and abandon recovery planning. It’s a key conservation tool,” she said.

“If it’s done well and with the right resources, we think it’s essential.”

There were nine of the 185 species that Ley – now the deputy leader of the Liberal Party – said still needed a recovery plan, including the spectacled flying fox and the golden sun moth.

Her office has been asking the environmental department questions because she no longer has responsibility for the portfolio.

A spokesman for the environment ministry said the former minister had followed the advice of the scientific committee in each case.

The TSSC reviewed recovery plans for 914 threatened species and habitats last year and its initial opinion was that 676 no longer needed a plan.

The 185 represented the first installment of what was to be a larger proposal.

The spokesperson said the objective of the scientific committee was to modernize conservation planning and “ensure that all listed species and ecological communities have suitable plans to support their recovery”.

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