Image for ‘Threatened Species Unit should be added to threatened list on International Threatened Species Day’

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*Pic: Montage by Jenny Weber

Swift Parrot images ©Dr Eric Woehler

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First published September 7

The Tasmanian government’s threatened species unit should be added to the threatened list as we celebrate International Threatened Species Day today.

The threatened species unit, part of the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) was established in 1995 when the Threatened Species Protection Act commenced.  There are currently 680 species listed on Schedules of the Act as either endangered, vulnerable or rare and at risk. 

The Threatened Species Unit has historically been funded through a combination of Commonwealth grants allocated to address specific species concerns or through agreements such as the Regional Forest Agreement and State government funding.  Unfortunately both State and Federal governments have turned their backs on threatened species so the number of staff in the Threatened Species Unit has reduced from around 15 fulltime equivalent (FTE) to just 2.8 FTE. 

“For a State that prides itself on our natural values and relies upon them to underpin our tourism industry it’s distressing to learn there are less than three fulltime positions funded to protect the 680 species at risk,” said CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch.

“The risks facing most of these plants and animals are increasing as development pushes deeper into their habitats and the impact of climate change bites but the Hodgman government is reducing the resources allocated to protect them,” said Mr. Lynch.

The capacity of this tiny team is reduced further by a complete lack of interest from the Minister, Matthew Groom, who has allowed the Scientific Advisory Committee to lapse by failing to make new appointments.  Under the legislation the statutory obligations of the Threatened Species Unit can’t be fulfilled without a Scientific Advisory Committee so the normal work of the unit – maintaining listings, progressing draft listings etc is stalled. 

“It seems Minister Groom is more interested in encouraging development in our National Parks and World Heritage Areas than defending the species those areas were reserved to protect in the first place,” said Mr. Lynch.  “There seems to be a conflict of interest in Minister Groom having responsibility for threatened species when he is such a strong advocate for development in our reserved lands”.

An example of how under resourced the Threatened Species Unit is can be seen by the meagre operating funds they have been allocated.  Following the most recent cuts there are now insufficient funds to pay for public notices to be placed in newspapers advising of changes to the Threatened Species Schedules notices required under the Act.

Greens: Threatened Species ignored by the Liberals Today is National Threatened Species Day, commemorating the anniversary of the death of the last thylacine in 1936. Unfortunately, the Liberals seem intent on repeating the mistakes that saw our most iconic species disappear from our island 81 years ago. Today the Eastern Quoll, the Swift Parrot and the Tasmanian Devil may have the highest profiles, but there are 680 species listed under the Threatened Species Protection Act as endangered or at risk …

Matthew Groom: Better protecting threatened species in Tasmania The Hodgman Liberal Government takes very seriously our responsibility for the protection of threatened species …

Wilderness Society: Groom called on to clarify Lib’s logging policy for Lobster habitat … Last month, Minister Groom jointly signed a Recovery Plan for the lobster with Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg under national environment laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This plan includes an agreed action to ‘increase the total area of giant freshwater crayfish habitat that is reserved’. This is inconsistent with his government’s policy to remove reservation for 356,000 hectares of high conservation value forest across the state, including in the catchments named as critical lobster habitat. ‘The Lobster Recovery Plan and its agreed action to increase reserves in key habitat areas was a welcome dose of common sense, underpinned by science,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society. ‘But this runs counter the Hodgman Government’s plan to reduce the amount of forests reserved in identified river catchments, in an attempt to introduce logging.’ ‘As we again recognise the tragic day the last known thylacine died 81 years ago, Minister Groom needs to clarify how his government can reconcile a policy position that is directly counter to an agreed plan to save another species from extinction …

• John Hawkins in Comments: … On her death, aged 94 in London with no immediate family, she left half her fortune to the nursing home that looked after her sister and the other half to marine life in Tasmania. The approximately $30 million in funds in today’s money was left in part on her death in 1988 for the protection of baby seals and dolphins in Tasmanian waters. This fund under the Trust deed is administered and controlled by the Premier of the State. I suggest that you ask the Minister if the Trust pays to move the seals from the Tassal pens to the north. If this is so is it being misused at the direction of the Premier? Further, is it being spent on marine species staff travelling the world as per the answer given to you and quoted above by the Fat One? Over to you …

Guardian: Pictures of the pollies on Threatened Species Day ...

First Dog on the Moon, Guardian: Which threatened species will pee on a politician in the fight for justice?