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Publications archive - Annual reports

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2001-02

Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1441-9335

Review of performance - outcome one: environment (continued)
Biodiversity

landscape of trees, water catchment and fauna

Protect and conserve biodiversity

Environment Australia implements national programmes to reverse the decline in quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation and to improve conservation in protected areas. It is also working to recover nationally listed threatened species and to combat invasive non-native species.

Environment Australia also has programmes to advance the identification and classification of plants and animals.

In 2001-02 Environment Australia worked to protect and conserve biodiversity through the following programmes:

Programmes that conserve biological diversity

Bushcare programme (Administered item, Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To reverse the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover.

Result

Bushcare is the major Natural Heritage Trust programme to conserve native vegetation. Since 1997, over $299 million has been approved under Bushcare to support more than 2612 projects.

In 2001-02, Bushcare funded 707 projects to protect and enhance the extent and quality of Australia's native vegetation.

Methods used to achieve Bushcare's objective include increasing the use of vegetation native to the local area in revegetation projects; restoring landscape productivity; promoting better management of remnant vegetation; increasing use of conservation and management agreements; and increasing community capacity to manage native vegetation through easy access to information, education and training. The intention is to reach the point where there is no net loss in the quality and extent of native vegetation, through improved remnant vegetation management, decreased vegetation clearance and increased vegetation re-establishment.

In 2001-02, over $52 million (80 per cent of funding) was allocated for some 610 community grants through the Natural Heritage Trust one-stop-shop and the Cape York programme. A further $12 million was allocated for Trust-related activities, such as local government facilitators, the Bushcare Support network, national projects, monitoring and evaluation, communications, a revolving fund to support purchase and covenanting of high-conservation value private lands, partnerships with the nursery industry to promote use of locally indigenous plants, and consultancies to address vegetation management issues.

Other projects of note that have increased community capacity to undertake effective on-ground actions to conserve and promote biodiversity included:

Bushcare funded 20 major education activities and ten major native vegetation management and restoration training activities, including the Bushcare Support network through Greening Australia. The number of participants in education and training activities was estimated to be well in excess of 10 000 for the year.

Based on information provided by project proponents, Bushcare supported revegetation and rehabilitation works covering approximately 773 000 hectares in 2001-02. The area increased from the 2000-01 figure of 600 000 hectares.

Endangered species programme (Administered item, Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To prevent the extinction, due to human causes, of threatened native flora and fauna; prevent further species and ecological communities from becoming threatened; and return threatened species and ecological communities to a secure status in the wild.

Result

The programme recognises the need to address key threatening processes, such as rabbits and foxes, as well as protecting individual species and ecological communities.

The Australian approach to the conservation of threatened species and ecological communities is to deliver recovery planning within a scientifically rigorous framework, involving the community as much as possible.

The Natural Heritage Trust's Endangered Species Programme funded the preparation and implementation of recovery plans and some threat abatement plans, many of which have been undertaken by state and territory conservation agencies, community groups, and other organisations.

Under the programme, 89 projects were approved totalling $5.7 million covering 563 nationally listed species and one ecological community. The projects involved species including the albatross, wedge tailed eagle, Gouldian finch, orange bellied parrot, southern corroboree frog, Gilbert's potoroo, the Tammar wallaby and the northern bettong.

Environment Australia managed the assessment of applications and made recommendations on the best available projects to achieve improvement in the status of priority threatened species and ecological communities.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 60 recovery plans for threatened species and communities were adopted in 2001-02. These included plans for species including the chuditch, cassowary, Shark Bay mouse and bridled nailtail wallaby, and ten plans for ecological communities.

As at 30 June 2002, a total of 143 recovery plans had been adopted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The plans cover over 177 nationally threatened species (approximately 12 per cent of the 1595 nationally listed species). Ten of these plans cover 13 ecological communities - about 48 per cent of the 27 listed ecological communities.

Threat abatement plans were adopted for 'incidental catch (or by-catch) of seabirds during longline fishing operations', which impacts on at least 14 threatened species, and 'dieback caused by the root-rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi', which impacts on approximately 106 threatened species.

A threat abatement plan is being developed for 'Psittacine circoviral (beak and feather) disease affecting endangered Psittacine species', which was listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in April 2001.

An orchid, Caladenia atkinsonii, was delisted as the taxon is no longer recognised as a valid species by scientists or scientific organisations in Australia.

The East Lynne midge-orchid (Genoplesium vernale), was downlisted from the endangered to the vulnerable category. The grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) east coast population was transferred from the vulnerable category to the endangered category.

The robust leek orchid (Prasophyllum robustum) was transferred from extinct to critically endangered.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee

Twenty-three recovery plans were submitted to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, and 61 (including 38 not finalised in 2000-01) were approved.

There were 62 nominations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for threatened species, four nominations for threatened ecological communities and one nomination for a key threatening process.

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee finalised its advice to the Minister on 123 species nominations, 18 ecological community nominations and five key threatening process nominations. This resulted in 46 amendments to the list of threatened species (including 12 delistings), no amendments to the list of ecological communities, and one addition to the list of key threatening processes.

Wildlife trade legislation and policy (Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To protect and conserve Australia's wildlife and to implement international agreements concerning trade in threatened species, through effective wildlife trade legislation and policy.

Result

Environment Australia successfully implemented the wildlife trade amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which came into force on 11 January 2002 and replaced the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. Implementation included finalising Regulations, developing information products, and conducting training and education.

The wildlife trade amendments introduced new categories for the issuing of permits and licences. In the period 1 July 2001 until 10 January 2002, 195 live imports and three management programmes were approved.

In the period 1 July 2001 until 10 January 2002, 30 830 permits, authorities and tags were issued. In the period 11 January until 30 June, 1850 permits and 12 139 personal accompanied baggage licences were issued.

Wildlife trade applications and approvals have continued at a similar rate following the change in legislation.

The Environment Australia and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act web sites were updated to inform stakeholders and the public of changed requirements arising from the wildlife trade amendments to the Act. Information explaining the implications of the amendments was prepared specific to the requirements of categories of stakeholders and posted to known traders, interest groups and their industry or community associations. About 1000 information packages were posted. Advertisements highlighting the amendments were placed in publications targeting tourists, Australian travellers and travel agents.

Over 65 training sessions were conducted for SeaNet and over 1000 staff of the Australian Customs Service, to acquaint them with the implications of the new provisions.

National feral animal control programme (Administered item)

Objective

To reduce the impact of feral animal pests on native species and the natural environment, particularly in areas important for the recovery of threatened species; and to reduce the agricultural damage caused by feral animals.

Result

The National Feral Animal Control Programme, funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, is managed by Environment Australia and by the Bureau of Rural Sciences within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia.

'Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs' was listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in July 2001. A stakeholder workshop was held in March 2002 as an important stage in the development of the threat abatement plan which is currently being prepared as required by the Act.

Environment Australia funded the development and implementation of eight threat abatement plans. Threat abatement plans were implemented for foxes, cats, rabbits and goats. Fourteen feral animal control projects totalling $2.2 million were approved for the management of foxes, cats, rabbits and cane toads.

National weeds programme (Administered item)

Objective

To reduce the impact of weeds of national significance; prevent the introduction of new pest plants through revised quarantine assessment procedures; and assess the potential of existing pest plants to become weeds of national significance.

Result

The programme is committed to developing strategies and action plans for each of the 'weeds of national significance'. At 30 June 2002, 19 strategies and action plans had been endorsed by Standing Committees representing the Commonwealth, state and territory environment, agriculture and forestry portfolios, and 17 of these had been printed, with the remainder in production.

Environment Australia and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia have managed the assessment of applications and made recommendations on the best available projects to achieve enhanced management of weeds of national significance. Sixty-six projects were approved under the environment component of the National Weeds Programme, worth $4.7 million and covering ten of the weeds of national significance.

Environment Australia worked with consultants and technical experts in 2000 to identify a national environmental 'Alert List' of 28 species in the early stages of establishment that have the potential to become a significant environmental problem species if they are not managed. Four of the projects funded by this programme in 2001-02 covered weeds on the Alert List that have established naturalised populations in the wild.

Natural Heritage Trust, Commonwealth Natural Resource Management Policies and Commonwealth-State Agreements (Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To include biodiversity conservation objectives and requirements in Natural Heritage Trust projects, Commonwealth natural resource management policies and Commonwealth-state agreements and arrangements.

Result

Environment Australia completed the redesign of the Natural Heritage Trust extension in consultation with states and territories and other stakeholders. The Trust extension will implement a strategic, targeted and integrated approach to natural resources management, focusing on regional delivery. Biodiversity conservation will form an integral component of Trust activities and this is ensured in the following ways.

The framework for the Trust extension establishes biodiversity conservation as one of the three overarching objectives of the Trust. It also outlines the scope of activity for Trust investment in ten areas, five of which achieve biodiversity outcomes as follows:

The Trust will seek to ensure the implementation of the National Framework for Natural Resource Management Standards and Targets, including standards and targets for biodiversity conservation.

Under the Trust extension and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, investment at the regional level will be on the basis of regional plans. These plans will cover the full range of natural resource management issues across terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, estuarine and marine ecosystems, including biodiversity issues.

International Agreements and National Strategies on Biodiversity (Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To implement international agreements and national strategies through domestic programmes.

Result
Convention on Biological Diversity

Australia's position on matters related to the Convention on Biological Diversity was presented at the 7th Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention, the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Convention and the 2nd Intergovernmental Committee Meeting of the Carthagena Protocol.

In accordance with the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity and the National Objectives and Targets for Biodiversity Conservation 2001-2005, three projects were funded to enable research into and recording of ethnobiological knowledge in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

International Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Australia has led global efforts and worked with the Australian fishing industry to end the deaths of seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels as a result of bycatch from fishing activities. Australia was the first country to ratify the International Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, in October 2001. The convention aims to enhance the conservation of albatrosses and petrels both at sea and on land.

National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality

Bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and states/territories for the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality include a commitment to develop a state monitoring, evaluation and reporting strategy that is consistent with the National Framework for Natural Resource Management Standards and Targets, which includes natural resource management and draft biodiversity standards and targets. Regional agreements will be developed following accreditation of integrated natural resource management plans.

National vegetation framework

In August 2001, the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council adopted the National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation. The framework sets out best practice procedures for the management and monitoring of native vegetation and is implemented through work plans established by the Commonwealth, and each state and territory government. The framework continues to be a vehicle for coordinated reform of native vegetation management legislation and regulation. Progress towards achieving long-term sustainable native vegetation management will be reviewed against the framework in 2004 and every three years thereafter.

Covenants and management agreements resulting from Natural Heritage Trust programmes

Covenants and management agreements made under the Trust include:

Education and information on biodiversity (Departmental output 1.2)

Objective

To increase awareness and understanding of biodiversity.

Result

The Environment Australia and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act web sites were updated to inform stakeholders and the public of changed requirements arising from the implementation of the wildlife trade amendments to the Act. Information explaining the implications of the amendments was widely distributed.

A new process providing for public consultation on new nominations for listing threatened species, ecological communities and key threatening processes has also been established.

Previously, consultation on nominations occurred through the Register of Interested Parties whereby only those interested people or organisations listed on the register received notification of new nominations. The new process involves placing all new nominations on the Environment Australia web site so that any members of the public may gain access to relevant information and provide advice or comments to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee on possible listing. This streamlined approach to consultation has enhanced the transparency of the consultation process and ensures that nominations are freely available to all interested individuals and organisations.

All lists of threatened or migratory species, recovery plans, threat abatement plans, action plans, conservation plans and conservation agreements made and approved by the Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act were published on the Environment Australia web site. Environment Australia established arrangements to ensure that people who do not have access to the internet can purchase these documents for a reasonable cost from the Government Info Shop in each capital city or from the Administrator of each Australian external territory. In addition, people can telephone Environment Australia using a freecall number to have a copy of any of these documents posted to them.

Biodiversity publications included:

The Community Biodiversity Network was funded to sponsor Biodiversity Month in September and to distribute its bulletin Life Lines. As a result of an agreement with Environment Australia, Woolworths included biodiversity conservation tips on milk cartons marketed during Biodiversity Month.

Australian biological resources study (Administered item, Departmental output 1.5)

Objective

To provide through strategic partnerships the underlying taxonomic knowledge necessary for the conservation and sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity.

Result

The Australian Biological Resources Study provided new knowledge and information about species and their role in ecosystems, with the publication of 14 new products in a variety of media including books, newsletters, CD-ROMs, web sites and posters.

The Minister approved over $1.798 million for 78 taxonomic research projects. The projects funded met the research priorities set by the Australian Biological Resources Study Advisory Committee in 2000. The Minister also approved the Australian Biological Resources Study Strategic Plan for 2001-2006, which is available in hard copy or on the web site.

Other grants included three postgraduate scholarships, two travel bursaries for postgraduate students, and funding the Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. A new international scholarship, the Ebbe Nielsen Regional Postgraduate Scholarship, was established to encourage outstanding students to undertake a research PhD in Australia on Australasian biodiversity.

The Australian Biological Resources Study continued to provide quality information services to a range of stakeholders. Achievements included major contributions to three major databases: the Environment Australia Species Profiles and Threats database, used as a management tool for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act; the Australian Plant Pests Database for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia; and the Forestry Organisms database for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia.

The Australian Biological Resources Study continued to build the Australian Biodiversity Information Facility, which is a web-based source of taxonomic and biological information being compiled for all species known to occur in Australia. During 2001-02 Australian Biodiversity Information Facility information on fauna species (the Australian Faunal Directory) doubled from 20 per cent to 40 per cent of known taxa and now covers nearly 39 000 species. Work also continued on development of the plant information, with the continued population of the web site.