The Australian Government has set new major new targets to tackle feral cats, protect and recover threatened mammals, birds and plants, and improve recovery practices under the nation’s first Threatened Species Strategy.
I am proud to launch the Strategy today at the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne.
The Threatened Species Strategy sets out the Government’s action plan to win the battle against extinction, commits $6.6 million to threatened species projects to kick-start that plan, and invites others with a shared passion for the bush and its wildlife to contribute as well.
Over time, plants and animals that once thrived on our continent have been pushed to the brink. We need to step in, for their sake and for ours.
There is a lot that can be done, from limiting the impacts of feral cats and creating safe havens to improving habitat and intervening in emergencies. But no one can do it alone, so today’s summit brings together the people, organisations and know-how to drive change.
By 2020, I am setting hard targets for real improvements to 20 mammals and 20 birds on our national threatened species list as well as for 30 priority plant species. That means humane culling of one of our wildlife’s worst enemies – feral cats.
The first 10 mammals identified for priority action are: the numbat, mala, mountain pygmy-possum, greater bilby, golden bandicoot, brush-tailed rabbit-rat, eastern bettong, western quoll, Kangaroo Island dunnart and eastern barred bandicoot.
Two more – the leadbeater’s possum and central rock-rat – will benefit from emergency interventions.
The first 10 birds identified for priority action are: the helmeted honeyeater, hooded plover, eastern bristlebird, regent honeyeater, mallee emu-wren, plains-wanderer, night parrot, Alligator Rivers yellow chat, and Norfolk Island’s green parrot and boobook owl.
Two more – the orange-bellied parrot and western ground parrot – will benefit from emergency interventions.
The remaining eight species of mammals and eight species of birds will be identified over the next 12 months, in consultation with the community.
By 2020, I want to see two million feral cats culled, five new islands and 10 new mainland ‘safe havens’ free of feral cats, and control measures applied across 10 million hectares.
To guide those efforts, I am also releasing today the threat abatement plan to limit the damage done by feral cats, after three months of public consultation on the draft document. Since their arrival in Australia, feral cats have contributed to the extinction of at least 27 mammal species. We don’t want to see that number grow.
We can’t win the war on extinction by doing more of the same, so the Threatened Species Strategy provides us with an ambitious plan to turn species trajectories around.
The projects committed to as part of the strategy range from the trial of a feral cat bait in the Kimberley to a new app that uses the power of citizen science to record feral cat sightings nationwide.
The projects benefit species as varied as bilbies in Queensland, central rock-rats in the Northern Territory, eastern barred bandicoots in Victoria, orange-bellied parrots in Tasmania, bettongs in the Australian Capital Territory, glossy black-cockatoos in South Australia, numbats in Western Australia and plains-wanderers in New South Wales.
The Australian Government is investing where we can make a difference – and we’re also encouraging others to do the same.
I am pleased to release the Australian Government’s policy for supporting public-private partnerships as a means to conserve Australia’s biodiversity, including threatened species.
The new Threatened Species Strategy and information on the latest funded projects is available online at: www.environment.gov.au/ts-strategy