The number of funded projects benefitting threatened species has just passed the 500 mark, as the Australian Government dramatically scales up efforts to save our native animals and plants.
Since mid-2014, the Australian Government has appointed the nation’s first Threatened Species Commissioner, released Australia’s first Threatened Species Strategy, set truly ambitious new targets for feral cat control and species recovery by 2020, and backed this commitment by securing more than $130 million in funding.
The Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, has just provided me with his latest report on implementation of the Threatened Strategy – and the news is good.
We are already seeing real and practical improvements for some of our rarest, at-risk species, as projects tackling feral cats, improving habitat, supporting emergency interventions and creating safe havens start rolling out across the 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.
For the eastern bettong and New Holland mouse, our new, collaborative approach means their home at Mulligan's Flat Woodland Sanctuary in the ACT is now being expanded.
For the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, it means a bigger, more genetically robust captive-breeding programme on NSW’s central coast.
For the plains-wanderer (a threatened bird), it means fewer rabbits and weeds threatening its grassland home in the Riverina.
For many more small mammals, birds and reptiles, it means fewer feral cats.
We are supporting the expansion of Eradicat® feral cat baiting across 850,000 hectares in Western Australia.
We have applied to register our own new humane feral cat bait Curiosity® for use in many other areas.
We are building feral-proof fences in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the ACT, eliminating feral cats from Christmas Island, and scoping other opportunities for more feral-free refuges.
We have detector dogs keeping mountain pygmy possums safe in New South Wales, guardian dogs being trained to protect eastern barred bandicoots in Victoria, and licensed sporting shooters reducing pest numbers so western quolls can be reintroduced in South Australia.
When emergencies have arisen, we have acted.
We stepped in with funding and resources when beak and feather disease threatened the orange-bellied parrot.
We are working with scientists and stakeholders to deliver on a new Leadbeater’s possum action plan.
We have backed efforts to give fire-ravaged populations of the western ground parrot and Gilbert’s potoroo in Western Australia a reprieve from feral cats with the use of Eradicat® baits.
Our track record over the past 18 months is one of science, action and partnerships. Our funding has been delivered through the Green Army, National Landcare Programme, 20 Million Trees and National Environmental Science Programme with support from the Threatened Species Commissioner.
As any international visitor will tell you, we are truly lucky to share this continent with so many wonderful and distinctly Australian plants and animals.
It is our duty to care for them, so our bilbies, numbats, quolls and other unique fauna and flora remain a living part of our culture.