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Australia to dedicate 30% of its land to protect wildlife: 'Need for action has never been greater'

'The need for action to protect our plants, animals, and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater,' Plibersek said.

Australia to dedicate 30% of its land to protect wildlife: 'Need for action has never been greater'
Cover Image Source: YouTube/CNA News

In an effort to preserve the plants and animals on the island continent known for species that are unique to it, Australia will reserve at least 30% of its land area, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announced on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Unique species such as koalas and platypus are found in Australia, the sixth-largest country in the world by geographical area, yet their populations have been declining owing to harsh weather occurrences and human intrusion into their ecosystems. Following estimates by environmentalists that Australia had lost nearly 30% of its koala population over the previous four years, koalas throughout a large portion of the east coast were designated as endangered in February. The newly elected federal Labor administration has also offered AU$224.5 million ($146 million) to help.


An environmental report card issued by the government every five years revealed that Australia has lost more animal species than any other continent and has one of the highest rates of species loss among the richest nations in the world. According to that study, an average of 8% more species were added to the list of endangered species or placed in a higher risk category than they were in the 2016 report. "The need for action to protect our plants, animals, and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater," Plibersek said in a statement.



According to Plibersek, the areas managed for conservation will be increased by 50 million hectares by giving priority to 110 species and 20 locations. Then, in 2027, the 10-year plan will be re-evaluated.

While applauding the government's conservation efforts, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Australia encouraged officials to take conservation efforts a step further by funding time-bound recovery plans for each vulnerable species. "Australia has more than 1,900 listed threatened species. This plan picks 110 winners. It's unclear how it will help our other 'nonpriority' threatened species," said Rachel Lowry, WWF-Australia's chief conservation officer. 



Aside from this major conservatory milestone, the Australian government has also started to include indigenous persons in their climate change policymaking. This summer, aboriginal Australians received more than 3,700 square kilometers of territory from two states. In Western Australia (WA), three new marine parks with a combined area of 2,317 square miles (the size of Delaware) were established by the government in partnership with Indigenous people. The state of Queensland provided 1,398 square miles in the northeast of the nation, the majority of which is national parkland.

These programs reflect a significant effort to expand the number of national parks, conserve them, and come to terms with the nation's tragic colonial past. According to indigenous leaders, this enhanced control over the wilderness is an important advancement. “The creation of these marine parks is a significant milestone for Australia as it shows true co-design between government and traditional owners can be achieved,” says Tyronne Gartsone, chief executive of Kimberley Land Council, the peak Indigenous body, or advocacy association, within WA’s Kimberley region.

A specific goal in the Australian ministry's plan to protect the threatened species is listed as "Increased participation of First Nations Peoples in the management and recovery of threatened species and threatened ecological communities." 

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