Despite federal environmental protection laws, human activities are continuing to destroy threatened species habitat at dangerous rates.
Read this short article with students to initiate a discussion about human impact on ecosystems. It would be particularly suited to students in year 4, 6, 7, and 9 studying Biological or Earth and Space Sciences.
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Human activities have destroyed more than 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat, revealing critical failures with Australia’s federal environmental protection laws.
A University of Queensland-led study has revealed that less than seven per cent of this destruction was referred to the Federal Government for assessment, scrutiny required under Australia’s flagship environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
“It’s alarming for a species to lose 25 per cent of its habitat in less than two decades – it must be addressed.”
“Species threatened with extinction are a matter of national environmental significance and need to be protected and conserved,” she says.
7.7 million hectares cleared in 17 years
The authors looked at the distributions of 1,638 terrestrial threatened species, terrestrial migratory species and threatened ecological communities, quantifying the loss of potential habitat and communities since the EPBC Act came into force.
The team found that more than 7.7 million hectares of potential habitat and communities were cleared between 2000 and 2017.
The koala lost approximately one million hectares of habitat since 2000.
The rate of land clearing should outrage the community
“It’s hard for any reasonable person to see how seven million hectares of unassessed, unapproved destruction of threatened species habitat can be other than unlawful.”
“The government is failing to enforce a law designed to halt Australia’s extinction crisis. It’s as if the cops are asleep at the wheel, while all the shops up and down the street are looted.”
Taylor also says that most of the destruction is to create livestock pasture, with many agricultural developers not referring their clearing plans for assessment.
“Why are agricultural developers not referring their clearing for assessment? This cannot be allowed to continue,” he says.
The Federal Government will begin reviewing the EPBC Act no later than October 2019.
The full report can be read here.
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