Australia’s 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires have had a devastating impact on the country’s unique flora and fauna, with some estimates claiming the lives of nearly half a billion animals in one state alone.

Australia on Tuesday listed the baby wallaby and the gray snake as 15 new threatened species as it launched a zero-extinction plan for its unique wildlife.

Many Australian species cling to their habitats as their habitats shrink due to human activity extreme events such as the Black Summer wildfires of 2019-2020, wildlife groups say.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government has announced a new 10-year scheme to try to halt the disappearance of 110 “priority species” and protect 20 “priority sites” from further degradation.

It aims to prevent any further extinctions of plants and animals by conserving at least 30 per cent of Australia’s land mass.

Wildlife groups have blamed Australia for failing to protect its unique species habitat destructionaccelerated by global warming and as a result extreme weather.

The Black Summer fires burned 5.8 million hectares in eastern Australia and killed or displaced an estimated 1-3 billion animals.

“In particular, the Black Summer forest fires had devastating results for many species. We are determined to give wildlife more chances,” said Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.

“Listing species as endangered under national conservation law is a critical step in protecting species and habitats in urgent need of assistance.”

“Capital of Extinction”

Australia’s attempts to protect its wildlife have so far not worked, the minister added.

“Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world,” she said.

Among the 15 threatened plants and animals are the vulnerable little Parma wallaby, which faces risks from bushfires and predators, the low-venomous Queensland gray snake, which is threatened with extinction, and the small wingless firefly, which is sensitive to extinction to drought and frequent forest fires.

Wildlife groups have welcomed the government’s aim to prevent further plant and animal extinctions.

“It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s very important if future generations of Australians want to see animals like koalas, mountain pygmy possums, gliders and cockatoo gangs,” said Australian Conservation Fund Conservation Program Manager Basha Stasak.

“Stopping the destruction of wildlife habitat is key to achieving this goal.”

Stasak called on the government to strengthen national environmental legislation, saying it had failed to protect animals, plants and ecosystems.

Scientists have estimated the cost of fighting Australia’s “extinction crisis” at A$1.69 billion ($1 billion) a year, Stasak said.

“Downward Spiral”

A five-year State of the Environment report released in July painted a picture of wildlife devastation on land and at sea.

This referred to the cutting down of millions of hectares of primary forests and massifs coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef caused by sea heat.

WWF Australia has called for investment in recovery plans for all species at risk of extinction.

“Australia’s wildlife and wilderness are on a dangerous downward spiral,” said WWF Australia’s Chief Conservation Officer Rachel Lowry.

She welcomed Australia’s goal of zero extinctions, saying it was in line with New Zealand’s and European Union member states’ goals.

Lowry called on the government to develop and fund a recovery plan for Australia’s more than 1,900 endangered species.

“This plan picks 110 winners,” she said.

“Not sure how this will help our other ‘non-priority’ endangered species such as our endangered large glider.’

Plibersek told reporters that protecting 110 priority species would create a “halo effect” on interdependent species in the same habitat.

Protecting the 20 sites could create “little Noah’s Arks, places where we can be sure we’re getting back to healthy plant and animal populations,” she said.

A “shocking” report describes the devastation of Australia’s wildlife

© 2022 AFP

Citation: Australia Lists Small Wallaby as New Threatened Species (2022, October 4) Retrieved October 4, 2022, from endangered-species.html

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