National objectives and targets for biodiversity conservation 2001–2005
Environment Australia, 2001
ISBN 0 6425 4743 2
About the report
Biodiversity describes the organisms in the natural environment, which provide the ecosystem services that form our natural capital: fresh water, clean air, soil fertility and biological pest control. Biodiversity is fundamental to the future sustainability of the world’s natural resources. A recent report by the World Resources Institute values the ‘free’ ecosystem services at over $30 trillion to the global economy each year. Conservation of biodiversity, on economic grounds alone, needs to become core business in the management of our natural resources.
These ecosystem services are under threat, globally and nationally, because the world is facing a wave of extinctions at a scale not seen before in human history. Australia has a unique responsibility to conserve our biodiversity: we are a wealthy nation and are custodians of one of 17 megadiverse nations. Over 80 per cent of our plants and animals are endemic to Australia – that is, they are found nowhere else in the world.
In 1996 Australia recognised the importance of biodiversity conservation when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) adopted the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity. In 2000, ANZECC commissioned a progress report. The report found that whilst significant advances had been made since 1996, a number of objectives had not been achieved.
This document sets objectives and targets for ten priority outcomes which the Commonwealth, States and Territories should pursue between now and 2005. The challenges and opportunities for biodiversity conservation are not uniform across Australia, so there will be some regional variation in the timing of the application of these targets.
The priority actions are to:
- protect and restore native vegetation and terrestrial ecosystems
- protect and restore freshwater ecosystems
- protect and restore marine and estuarine ecosystems
- control invasive species
- mitigate dryland salinity
- promote ecologically sustainable grazing
- minimise impacts of climate change on biodiversity
- maintain and record indigenous peoples’ ethnobiological knowledge
- improve scientific knowledge and access to information
- introduce institutional reform
These priority outcomes, objectives and targets complement the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality initiative adopted by COAG in November 2000; the National Framework for Management and Monitoring of Australia’s Native Vegetation; the National Greenhouse Strategy; the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan 1997-2002; the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy and Shorebird Action Plan 2000-2005; and COAG water reforms.