Minister's decision to develop a threat abatement plan for cane toads
Reasons for threat abatement plan decision
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has decided to approve the development of a threat abatement plan (TAP) to address the 2005 key threatening process – The biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by Cane Toads (Bufo marinus). The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) has recommended a TAP for this key threatening process, as they consider its development to be a feasible, effective and efficient way to abate the process at this time.
Since the time of the Committee's 2005 advice to the Minister, the impact of cane toads has been observed as the western incursion has moved across the Northern Territory. The impacts on native species have been severe, but not devastating, and vary considerably according to the traits of the affected species.
Large scale research efforts to control toad populations, such as researching biological control solutions, have not yielded sufficiently encouraging results to justify their continuation or implementation. Despite concerted attempts to stop or limit toad incursion by physical barriers or removal, the advance of cane toads has not been halted. The Minister appreciates that, although physically removing toads through community effort can be helpful for periods of time and at a very local scale, this process will not provide broadscale effects nor will it necessarily protect the key biodiversity assets impacted by the cane toad.
There is a lack of consensus on both the degree of threat posed by cane toads and on what measures are most likely to abate that threat. As a result, a diverse range of actions have been taken against cane toads without strong overall coordination.
The Committee advised the Minister that a strategically targeted TAP under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 would provide authoritative national leadership that would guide investment and action by other jurisdictions, research organisations and non-government organisations. As this threatening process occurs in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, abatement action will benefit from national coordination.
The Committee also advised the Minister that a cane toad TAP should be specific in addressing the known threats to native species and monitoring for additional impacts. A TAP that sets a nationally consistent approach to coordinated management and research is more likely to actively protect Australia's biodiversity and assets than broad scale, landscape-wide control methods.