Sixteen more threatened bird and mammal species will start on the road to recovery after the Australian Government today committed to improving their trajectories by 2020.
The mahogany glider, eastern quoll, western ringtail possum, woylie, black-footed rock-wallaby, Gilbert’s potoroo, northern hopping-mouse and Christmas Island flying-fox will join the list of 20 mammal species prioritised for action under Australia’s first Threatened Species Strategy.
The cassowary, swift parrot, eastern curlew, Australasian bittern, malleefowl, south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo, white-throated grasswren and golden-shouldered parrot are also in line for special attention, as the latest additions to the list of 20 priority bird species.
I’m delighted to be joined by Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews to make this exciting announcement today at Werribee Zoo south-west of Melbourne.
The landmark Threatened Species Strategy released last year identified the first tranche of birds and mammals to be targeted for action. Today’s announcement of the remaining priority species marks another milestone for wildlife conservation in this country.
For too long, the problem of species decline has been put in the ‘too hard’ basket. We’ve taken a new and different approach, and I’m heartened to see it is already proving its worth.
Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews has just provided me with his latest report on the rollout of the strategy, and the news is good. The number of projects benefitting threatened species has just passed the 500 mark.
Hundreds of threatened animals, plants and ecosystems have shared in more than $130 million in Australian Government funding since 2014, through the National Landcare Programme, Green Army, 20 Million Trees and other programmes.
This investment continues to grow as more and more volunteers, community and conservation groups, scientists, state and territory governments, farmers and businesses join us to protect the bush and its wildlife.
Today, I want to add to those partnerships by announcing two new initiatives for our threatened species.
The first initiative commits $200,000 to a BirdLife Australia project to better understand our country’s spectacular waterbirds, such as the Australasian bittern, black swan, brolga, freckled duck, little egret and pied heron.
This project, supported by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP), builds on previous work to quantify the state of Australia’s terrestrial birds and extends it to waterbirds for the first time.
Understanding their population trends can tell us a lot about the health of sensitive freshwater and coastal habitats. It also can provide ‘early-warning’ signals of species in decline, and help inform Australia’s bilateral migratory bird agreements.
The second initiative commits the Australian Government to developing a new four-point action plan to protect the Christmas Island frigatebird, a species listed as the ninth most evolutionary distinct and globally endangered bird in the world.
The frigatebird breeds on Christmas Island and ranges across south-east Asia and the Indian Ocean. It will benefit from scientific research to understand its ecology through the NESP, an urgent review of its conservation status and recovery plan within Australia, an investigation into what marine conservation options we have available, and finally, once these actions are underway, commencement of a discussion with Indonesian Government officials about what our two nations can do together to secure this remarkable seabird’s future.
Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews and Director of National Parks Sally Barnes are working on the action plan.
Find out more about the priority mammal and bird species:
Read the Threatened Species Commissioner’s latest progress report: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tsc-report-dec2015
Find out more about the National Environmental Science Programme: