On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 4 December 2018:

Australia's faunal extinction crisis, including:

a) the ongoing decline in the population and conservation status of Australia's nearly 500 threatened fauna species;

b) the wider ecological impact of faunal extinction;

c) the international and domestic obligations of the Commonwealth Government in conserving threatened fauna;

d) the adequacy of Commonwealth environment laws, including but not limited to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, in providing sufficient protections for threatened fauna and against key threatening processes;

e) the adequacy and effectiveness of protections for critical habitat for threatened fauna under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

f) the adequacy of the management and extent of the National Reserve System, stewardship arrangements, covenants and connectivity through wildlife corridors in conserving threatened fauna;

g) the use of traditional knowledge and management for threatened species recovery and other outcomes as well as opportunities to expand the use of traditional knowledge and management for conservation;

h) the adequacy of existing funding streams for implementing threatened species recovery plans and preventing threatened fauna loss in general;

i) the adequacy of existing monitoring practices in relation to the threatened fauna assessment and adaptive management responses;

j) the adequacy of existing assessment processes for identifying threatened fauna conservation status;

k) the adequacy of existing compliance mechanisms for enforcing Commonwealth environment law; and

l) any related matters.

This report is an interim report that draws on the committee's work to date. It concentrates on evidence received by the committee on whether the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is currently fulfilling its objectives in protecting threatened species.

The interim report consists of four chapters:

  • Chapter 1 provides a background to the inquiry and its administration, a summary of the EPBC Act, and an overview of relevant reviews of and inquiries into the Act;
  • Chapter 2 provides an overview of the faunal extinction crisis in Australia and the key threats to the survival of Australia's unique fauna;
  • Chapter 3 considers the evidence received by the committee on the effectiveness of the EPBC Act, and potential reforms that should be considered by the Commonwealth; and
  • Chapter 4 sets out the committee's views and recommendations
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