Overview of effectiveness of management of biodiversity


A key policy initiative for threatened species management since 2011 has been the development of the Threatened Species Strategy (DoE 2015b).  Currently, 20 mammals and 20 birds are listed for priority action under the Threatened Species Action Plan associated with the strategy, along with a suite of initiatives to control feral cats.

The appointment of a Threatened Species Commissioner in July 2014 also aims to bring a national focus to conservation efforts, and help to address the growing number of native flora and fauna in Australia facing extinction.

The Australian Government supports efforts to conserve our native plants and animals, and the ecosystems in which they live through a broad range of programs, including the National Landcare Programme,  the Reef Trust and the Green Army. Each state and territory also undertakes significant biodiversity conservation efforts, in partnership with local government, nongovernment organisations and industry.

The widespread lack of consistent long-term data means that it is difficult to assess and quantify the effectiveness of investments in biodiversity management in Australia—although it is reasonable to assume that that there have been many successes. It is much easier to document evidence of biodiversity declines and, therefore, insufficient or inefficient investment in the face of species extinctions, unfulfilled management targets and increasing pressures.

Similarly, the effectiveness of recovery planning as a primary tool for managing threatened species and communities is difficult to assess. Although there are many examples of local and regional-scale projects that have been successful in protecting threatened species and communities, few examples exist of long-term improvements in the conservation status of individual species (e.g. the recovery of humpback whale populations) and communities that can be attributed to management actions and recovery planning. The extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys happened despite a recovery plan being in place; very few actions in the plan appear to have been implemented.

Future investment and its effectiveness will also need to be more realistic about what objectives are achievable, particularly under a changing climate.

Jackson WJ, Argent RM, Bax NJ, Bui E, Clark GF, Coleman S, Cresswell ID, Emmerson KM, Evans K, Hibberd MF, Johnston EL, Keywood MD, Klekociuk A, Mackay R, Metcalfe D, Murphy H, Rankin A, Smith DC, Wienecke B (2016). Overview: Overview of effectiveness of management of biodiversity. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview/biodiversity/topic/overview-effectiveness-management-biodiversity, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65510c633b