Aggravating extinction: how the Australian government approves the destruction of threatened species habitat

Threatened species Biodiversity conservation Deforestation Habitat Animal populations Environmental management Australia

Australia is one of only 17 mega-diverse nations on Earth and home to some of the most unique and remarkable plants and animals on the planet.

Yet Australia is also a world leader in nature destruction. We’re the only developed nation on the list of global deforestation hotspots and we’ve caused the extinction of more mammals than any other nation. We rank third in the world on the total number of extinct and threatened animals, and eighth in the world on extinct and threatened species.

Consecutive State of the Environment reports have warned Australia is losing biodiversity at an alarming rate and habitat destruction is a leading driver of nature decline and extinction. Habitat destruction describes the loss, fragmentation and degradation of forests, grasslands and woodlands, mountains and deserts, rivers and wetlands, coastlines and seas where plants and animals that are threatened with extinction live. Despite clear warnings that habitat destruction is a key driver of extinction and compounds the effects of other key threats (including invasive species, fire, and climate change), this investigation has uncovered evidence that the destruction of legally-protected threatened species habitat is not only ongoing, but accelerating.

This investigation reveals how the federal government has been intensifying, rather than abating, the extinction pressure faced by Australian threatened species.

The investigation highlights five case studies of iconic EPBC-listed threatened animals – the koala, greater glider, swift parrot, forest red-tailed black-cockatoo and spot-tailed quoll – that have had tens of thousands of hectares of precious habitat approved for destruction, despite the fact habitat destruction is one of the most dangerous threats to their survival.

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