25 June 2019
Funding essential to save SA endangered species
Last night’s Four Corners episode, ‘Extinction Nation’, highlights the desperate state of many of Australia’s most endangered species, with South Australia performing particularly poorly when it comes to protecting our most vulnerable species, says the state’s peak environment body.
“South Australia has one of the worst extinction rates in the world. Yet State Government funding for nature protection is at historically low levels,” said Conservation SA’s Chief Executive, Craig Wilkins.
“While funding isn’t everything, it makes a massive difference. Last night’s Four Corners episode suggested that we are spending just a tenth of what is required.
“Year after year for the last decade the amount of money provided by State Treasury for nature protection has fallen.
“As a result, the Environment Department is now a shell of what it once was, and volunteers and community groups are struggling across the state to keep up their on-ground work looking after our most vulnerable animals and plants.
“While there was some welcome new money for new stand-alone projects in last week’s state budget, there is still a planned reduction in core Environment Department funding for at least the next four years.
“This funding is essential for ongoing protection, monitoring and biodiversity research. Without it, we are flying blind, with many species at risk, and the volunteers and scientists who try to look after them left to pick up the pieces,” he said.
A recent UN Report stated a million species worldwide are at risk of extinction. Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world. In South Australia, 24 mammals and eight birds have gone extinct since European settlement.
The SA Government has yet to formally respond to last year’s five-yearly State of the Environment Report, which showed a poor trend across most animal and plant indicators.
“We know there are so many opportunities to help protect our most vulnerable species, including revegetation and ‘re-wilding’ – the introduction of native species back into areas they used to live in,” said Mr Wilkins.
“But they need a massive injection of funding to ensure they have an impact at scale, backed up by protection through legislation and the planning system.
“And against the triple threat of climate change, invasive feral predators and loss of habitat through population encroachment and development, we are losing the battle.
“The reduction in State Government protection has been matched by big cutbacks at a Federal level.
“In last night’s Four Corners episode, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley placed the responsibility back on state governments to respond to the faunal extinction crisis.
“We look forward to the Marshall Government’s response to this challenge,” he said.
Media Contact: Craig Wilkins, 0417 879 439