Australia has a high rate of extinctions. The rate of loss is continuing, unabated. Some recent extinctions have occurred without relevant managers having
sufficient foreknowledge the species is close to disappearing.
“The problem is that the Australian threatened species list, which is what most conservation managers and policy makers refer to, is failing to keep abreast of the actual rate of biodiversity loss,” said Professor John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s Project 2.1 will work to ensure that policy makers and project managers have more reliable and up to date information about species closest to extinction.
“There should be no regrets or surprises. If all the relevant ministers, policy makers and project managers are aware of a high extinction risk, then they
have an opportunity to avert it.”
Led by Professors John Woinarski and Stephen Garnett, the Project will develop mechanisms to complement the Australian threatened species list to help reduce the risk of further species’ loss.
“It’s remarkable how rapidly some species have disappeared, and sometimes it’s hard to predict. The forest skink on Christmas Island is a classic case – it was only officially recognised as threatened five months before it was extinct,” said Professor Woinarski.
Researchers will identify fauna species facing imminent risk of extinction and work with on-ground management agencies (state government, NGOs etc.) to identify and prioritise management responses.
“We will also be looking to work closely with the Hub’s monitoring project. A better handle on a species’ current population trajectory provides more confidence about estimating the risks and likelihood of extinction.”
“Initially we’ll develop modelling to predict extinction risk amongst birds and mammals, for which there is generally more information, and then proceed to other vertebrates and invertebrates in subsequent stages.”
“The species we’re fighting for don’t have to be the most charismatic or well known - much of Australia’s biodiversity loss has occurred in less charismatic species.”
“For all highly imperilled species, we’ll review the existing or proposed management actions and attempt to refine and improve them. At the end of this project we should have alerted all relevant ministers, policy makers and managers – there should be no excuses or surprises.”
Project 2.1 links in with other work taking place through the Hub, to provide the Minister for the Environment, Threatened Species Commissioner and Federal Department of The Environment with evidence to inform policy and on-ground threatened species management decisions.
Featured image: An example of insufficient warning of extinction-risk.
The Christmas Island forest skink was not formally recognised as threatened until December 2013, far too late to prevent its extinction on 31 May 2014.
Photo: Hal Cogger
One million species threatened with extinction worldwide. That was the attention-grabbing headline that recently (and, sadly, briefly) captured the world’s attention, when the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) released its first global assessment of how the planet’s biodiversity is faring – and what that means for people.
The Alligator Rivers yellow chat is a small, bright yellow insectivorous bird of the Kakadu floodplains. This Endangered species is imperilled by habitat changes caused by altered fire regimes, buffalo and feral pigs, rising sea levels and the spread of weeds like prickly mimosa and introduced grasses. What has been happening to degrade these floodplains has been equally of concern to Traditional Owners as to yellow chat researchers.
The central purpose of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is delivering research that is relevant for and useable by decision-makers, land managers and others responsible for recovering threatened species. Working with partners is vital if we’re to achieve this.
The native forest on Norfolk Island provides vital habitat for the island’s threatened plant and bird species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet (also called endemic). When the British colonised Norfolk Island in 1788, they cleared much of the original vegetation. Remaining forest is now protected in the national park and reserves, but plant recruitment is poor and invasive non-native plant species would likely overtake the forest without the on-going efforts of park managers. To preserve remaining forest, it is important to determine the main causes of declines and the most effective actions that managers can take to address these threats and restore native vegetation.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is celebrating great conservation outcomes from projects taking place in Booderee National Park for two Endangered species: the eastern bristlebird and the southern brown bandicoot (eastern subspecies). The Australian National University’s David Lindenmayer and Chris MacGregor give us the scoop on the bristlebird and Natasha Robinson shares the good news about the southern brown bandicoot.