Victoria’s most threatened and vulnerable native species are being let down by poor laws that need fundamental reform.
Along with Environmental Justice Australia and Environment Victoria we have welcomed the Victorian Government’s public consultation report on the reform of our state’s key nature protection law, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFG Act).
The discussion paper released by the Andrews Government on 30 January 2017 opens the door to a long overdue upgrade.
There have been calls for some years for an overhaul of Victoria’s key nature protection laws, which have been woefully ineffective at protecting our threatened species and natural landscapes.
Desperate need for reform
Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia. Since European settlement 18 species of mammal, two birds, one snake, three types of fish and 51 plants have become extinct in Victoria. The laws that are supposed to protect nature are clearly not doing their job.
Between a quarter and one third of all Victorian land-based plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are considered threatened with extinction. We need to do more to reverse these trends and good nature protection laws are a critical part.
The review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Victoria to make much needed improvements to its main nature protection law.
Conservation groups are calling for five key elements to be in new legislation:
A fair go for threatened species by removing exemptions and special treatments for government departments and some industries.
Stronger stop and protect powers with clear requirements for the minister to intervene when important species or habitats are under threat.
A nature cop on the beat with stronger enforcement, real penalties and better monitoring.
Clear targets and timelines to direct investment and programs for threatened species. protection and recovery, across the whole state.
Giving community power to act, including capacity to determine regional plans and ability to initiate legal action to protect threatened species.
The consultation paper is available from the Engage Victoria website.