We need to refocus to fix Australia's extinction crisis

Blog post by A/Prof Patrick O’Connor

The report released Global Assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) last week brings global evidence together to report that nearly a million species face extinction if we do not change how we manage our land and water.

The report touches on the range of actions which need to be taken to avert this catastrophe, including the need to immediately reform the legal, institutional and economic framework which allow and promote species loss.

Today A/Prof Patrick O’Connor and Dr Stuart Collard from Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) together with Dr Tom Prowse (School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Adelaide) have published an article in The Conversation outlining two of the key issues which limit efforts to curb the extinction rate in Australia.

The article entitled “Fixing Australia’s extinction crisis means thinking bigger than individual species” highlights the failure of conservation efforts in Australia to focus on the protection of the ecosystems in which species live, including those species under extinction risk. Along with this failure of focus, the article also illustrates that programs purportedly established to restore ecosystems are so woefully funded with respect to the scale of the effort required, that they are at least an order of magnitude below the levels that would make a meaningful impact.

Australian environmental investment needs to up its game. The total expenditures need to expand to the scale of the problem and the mechanisms of investment need to engage much more of the population and economy in making a difference. Current investment is only window dressing on the problem on a continent where several States continue to prevaricate over stopping the ecologically disastrous consequences of wholesale land clearance. Even if we decided to significantly raise the investment available, years of neglect of community organisations seeking to redress environmental balance (e.g. Landcare), has left us with low capacity to gear up and tackle the problems.

Readers should be sceptical of government announcements that only reach the tens of millions of dollars for country-wide redress of species and ecological community decline.

You can read the article.

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