Back From the Brink: Refining the Threatened Species Recovery Process

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Sally Stephens and Stephanie Maxwell (Editors)
Australian Nature Conservation Agency, 1996
ISBN 0 949 32469 8

Priorities for Conservation

Recovery of Australian threatened species - a national perspective

Bruce Male

The Commonwealth Endangered Species Program was established in 1989 to prevent further extinctions of Australian flora and fauna and restore those species and ecological communities currently threatened with extinction to a secure status in the wild. The Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992provides the legislative framework for the program and places specific statutory obligations on the Commonwealth Government with regard to its own lands and waters and its decisions and actions.

The approach adopted by this program, including action plans, recovery plans, amelioration of threatening processes and education and public awareness campaigns and the legislative linkage, is described and explained.

Commonwealth and State Government frameworks for recovery planning for threatened species and communities

David Papps

The Commonwealth and State Governments of Australia share a commitment to the conservation of threatened species. There are differences in legislative, policy and practical approaches to recovery planning. Some of these differences reflect the different stages in the development and implementation of legislation or associated programs in States and the Commonwealth.

All States have had involvement in the preparation and implementation of recovery plans, often in cooperation with the Commonwealth's Endangered Species Program.

The framework for recovery planning in each jurisdiction is noted and problems identified.

Restoring threatened species and ecological communities to a secure status in the wild offers one of the greatest challenges in biodiversity conservation. Co-operative endeavour between the community and conservation agencies and across political boundaries, built on rigorous, critical and continuing review of policy and programs, is essential to success.

The New Zealand experience: legislation, priorities and recovery planning

Ian Govey and Janet Owen

The Department of Conservation is responsible for drafting and implementing recovery plans for New Zealand's indigenous vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Recovery plans are not a statutory requirement in New Zealand. They are intended to provide concise statements of proposed management actions. They cover a defined time span - usually five years. The Department of Conservation has developed a ranking system to identify species in most need of conservation action, which takes account of their status, the threats they face, their vulnerability and distinctiveness. Recovery plans complement this priority ranking system. The purpose of recovery plans is to promote public involvement and support, identify and prioritize actions needed for recovery of the species, and provide the basis for work plans and funding requirements. Recovery groups are established to oversee implementation of the plans. They include people with specific expertise on the species, and the function of the group is to resolve technical issues and make recommendations on the detail of conservation activities. Recovery plans are useful in describing the Department's management intentions, allowing the support of private landowners to be elicited in making land management changes for the benefit of threatened species. The public, and non-governmental organizations are encouraged to participate in the decision-making process. Recovery plans are also valuable in the Department's business planning. Work plans can be developed around the intended outcomes listed in the plan, and the outcomes can be measured. With a published list of objectives, funding can be sought from sponsors to assist with specific funding projects.

Determining priorities for plant conservation: an economic necessity

Katrina Jensz

A national system to prioritize threatened plant species for conservation action is necessary to assess those species that are critically endangered and need urgent attention, to determine whether conservation action for those species is feasible, to ensure that maximum benefit is obtained from the limited resources available, and to enable agencies to work cooperatively on an agreed list of priorities.

The conventional approach for determining priorities for conservation action has been to only assess the degree to which species are threatened, with priority given to the most critically endangered species. Such systems have not been helpful when applied to assess funding priorities for plant conservation given the large number of threatened plants and the inadequate fiscal resources available.

This paper describes a system which prioritizes threatened plant species for conservation action by considering their potential for recovery as well as their state of endangerment. The system is currently being used to assess all species listed as nationally endangered. The priority list will be used for future funding decisions under the Endangered Species Program.

Conservation overviews for invertebrates and non-vascular plants and fungi: setting the scene for recovery plans

Tim R. New

The problems of defining conservation priorities among very diverse groups of organisms, exemplified by invertebrates and non-vascular plants and fungi, are formidable. National conservation overviews for these taxa reveal many problems for the development of practical conservation management programs, collectively reflecting their high diversity, poorly understood taxonomy (even at the levels of genera and families in some groups), lack of biological and distributional knowledge, and lack of public sympathy and of resources available for conservation.