Review of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council
Environment Australia, 2001
ISBN 0 6425 4734 3

Introduction

This review has been conducted to meet the requirements of Action 7.2.2 (b) of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity:

The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), in consultation with other relevant Ministerial Councils, will monitor outcomes of this Strategy and undertake five-yearly reviews of its implementation.

Development of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity (the Strategy) commenced in early 1991 in an environment of increasing international and domestic concern over the irreversible loss of genes, species and ecosystems around the globe. Australia signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992 and the Strategy was adopted in 1996 as the principal means for coordinated implementation of the CBD in Australia.

ANZECC prepared the Strategy in consultation with a range of other related ministerial councils and committees. The review has drawn on the knowledge and expertise from a range of sources including the Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions and the Biological Diversity Advisory Council. The views of business, industry and the conservation movement were also sought and the provisions of the CBD were taken into account. The review is a systematic assessment of the extent to which the objectives of the Strategy have or have not been achieved since the Strategy was adopted in 1996.

The review does not set out to be a rigorous scientific assessment of these objectives as this would duplicate work of other processes such as the State of the Environment reports. The next State of the Environment report is due in late 2001.

The goal of the Strategy is:

  • To protect biological diversity and maintain ecological processes and systems.

The aim of the Strategy is:

  • To bridge the gap between current activities and those measures necessary to ensure the effective identification, conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biological diversity.

The Strategy meets the requirements of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.

The Strategy covers all of Australia's biological diversity in terrestrial, marine and other aquatic biological systems, including those of the external territories. It focuses on the conservation of indigenous biological diversity. The Strategy addresses six target areas each with specific objectives and actions. Priority actions are identified for implementation by 2000.

Monitoring and evaluating the Strategy

The Strategy assigns ANZECC a central role in its coordination and review, and states that ANZECC, in consultation with other ministerial councils, will:

  • assume overall responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the Strategy at the national level;
  • monitor outcomes of the Strategy and undertake five-yearly reviews of its implementation;
  • provide to governments regular publicly available reports on the state of Australia's biological diversity - these 'state of biological diversity' reports should form part of the State of the Environment reports that are to be prepared by the States, Territories and the Commonwealth; and
  • report regularly to heads of government on progress in implementing the Strategy.

To discharge these responsibilities, ANZECC established the Biodiversity Strategy Executive Group. This small group of senior government officials includes a Commonwealth Chair and representatives from ANZECC, the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture (MCFFA), and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ).

This review

The findings of this review have been developed through assessing each objective in the Strategy and the activities undertaken to achieve them. Through this process each objective has been designated as:

  • achieved;
  • achieved, ongoing effort required;
  • partially achieved; or
  • not achieved.

The assessment of the extent to which the Strategy's objectives have or have not been achieved is based on an analysis of each objective's requirements as defined and the activity undertaken by governments, other organisations and individuals. The review highlights (in bold) key aspects of the objective which elaborate the performance required to be considered achieved or partially achieved.

For example, objective 1.4 requires that a comprehensive system of protected areas be established and maintained whereas 1.6 requires the maintenance of existing arrangements to conserve Australia's native wildlife.

The review has drawn on the knowledge and expertise from a range of sources including the Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions, the former Biological Diversity Advisory Council and interested stakeholders. The review does not set out to provide a scientific assessment of each objective. In many cases this would duplicate work of other processes such as the State of the Environment reports. The next State of the Environment report is due in late 2001. The Strategy's objectives are also generally focused on process or institutional changes needed to conserve biological diversity and do not readily lend themselves to scientific assessment. Instead an assessment of the legislative, institutional and on-ground activity is provided.