Improving conservation assessments and policy options for poorly known species

Date: 20, Aug, 2019
Author(s): Beth Crase   John Woinarski   Stephen Garnett   Sarah Legge   |   Beth Crase, John Woinarski, Stephen Garnett, Sarah Legge
Publisher: TSR Hub

Project 5.2 In Australia, assessments of species’ conservation status are routinely based on information about population size and trends, distributional extent and threats. Species which are poorly known and for which these data do not exist are unlikely to be assessed or listed as threatened. It is likely that many of Australia’s poorly known species would qualify as threatened if we had the evidence to assess them properly. In the absence of sufficient knowledge to allow listing, poorly known species fall into a conservation limbo and are typically not provided any explicit protection or conservation management. Furthermore, this treatment perpetuates taxonomic biases in conservation — because typically more information is available for terrestrial vertebrates than for, say, invertebrates. As a result, the formal list of threatened species is likely to be a marked underestimate of the actual number of species that merit listing. In some Australian states and territories, and internationally, some protection to such species is provided by including them within a Data Deficient conservation status, but this category is not allowed under Australia’s national legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).