The plan to prepare plans – the end is nigh

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Having a list of rare and endangered species is not much good if there is no binding plan to protect them.

The Long nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus tridactyl)

As a result of the legal proceedings initiated in the Supreme Court on 21 May 2013 by EDO on behalf of EEG, the then environment Department, DEPI, agreed to immediately prepare protection plans called Action Statements, for four of about 700 listed species (over half did not have Action Statements). DEPI is legally obliged under section 19 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act to produce Action Statements as soon as possible after listing.

The species we chose to force the government to act were the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, the Long-Nosed Potoroo, the Large Brown Tree Frog and the Eastern She-Oak Skink. This was a start but we soon discovered that these plans can often be little more than motherhood statements.

As well the Secretary of the Department agreed to address the backlog and continue to develop an overarching three-year plan to produce action statements for the hundreds of others. That plan was finalised in December 2013. Back then 480 species had no Action Statements or only draft protection plans. Some had been in limbo for years.

The three-year plan covered 2013–2016. It gives a rough outline of how species will be prioritised using such things as risks to survival, public profile, complexity of writing a plan, how many threats, how many stakeholders, and so on. A year by year list was to be drawn up and included in business plans and agreements (and hopefully budgets). Year one (2014) was to finalise ‘a number of’ languishing draft Action Statements but how many they didn’t say. Year two was to again finalise some existing draft Action Statements and list some high priority species as well as updating existing Action Statements (a requirement every 5 years). There was no description of how it would choose which old plans to review and update and no details of any pubic consultation.

At the end of this period in 2016, a new plan to continue finalising protection plans for the hundreds of species still unprotected, was to be drawn up.