Two more species have been added to Australia’s escalating federal list of over 1800 species and ecological communities threatened with extinction.
The mountain skink, which survives in isolated pockets of subalpine Victoria, ACT and NSW, was listed as endangered, while the south-eastern glossy black cockatoo was designated as vulnerable.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the listing would “ensure the prioritisation of recovery actions to protect both species”.
The listings follow the release of the federal State of the Environment report which found Australia’s biodiversity is deteriorating from its already poor condition.
States increasing anti-protest laws amid extinction crisis
While the 2019 / 2020 Black Summer bushfires have escalated a decline in numbers of many species, habitat loss and climate change continue to have a severe impact.
While the Commonwealth is able to list species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), state logging operations are largely not directly affected by the legislation.
With public concern about environmental damage increasing, the states have responded by increasing penalties for protesters causing disruption to the logging and fossil fuel industries.
Last week Victoria’s government introduced new laws which could see those entering harvesting zones to disrupt workers face 12 months in jail or $21,000 in fines.
Tasmania also increased penalties with new anti-protest laws meaning anyone who obstructs a business could be hit with fines of up to $8,650, or 12 months in prison.
In NSW, the state government introduced a police strike force to combat climate change protesters, and increased fines to $22,000 for those who block roads or railway lines.
Stronger environment laws needed, charity warns
Australian Conservation Foundation said with the nation maintaining one of the world’s highest extinction rates, federal environment laws must be strengthened.
The charity’s biodiversity policy adviser Sophie Power said it was “terrible” that another two species have been driven towards extinction.
“Since our national environment law came into force more than 20 years ago, the list of threatened species and ecosystems has continued to grow,” she said.
“To halt Australia’s extinction crisis we need stronger national environment laws, an independent regulator to enforce them and adequate funding for the recovery of Australia’s threatened species.”
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