This should be making news daily until the government takes real action – a third of all of Victoria’s terrestrial plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, invertebrates and ecological communities are threatened with extinction.
The Victorian Auditor General’s Office looks at various aspects of government departments, if they are performing well, using money effectively and carrying out their duties.
In mid October 2021 it released a report on DELWP and how it’s looking after the state’s threatened plants and wildlife. It was a scathing report; our biodiversity continues to decline.
In summary, the VAGO report found that DELWP:
* cannot demonstrate if, or how well, it is halting further decline.
* aims to choose the cheapest (they call ‘cost-effective’) protection actions, such as modelling tools.
* uses data in the models that is likely outdated, and has critical gaps.
* can miss endangered species using their system.
* has no transparent, risk-based process to prioritise species.
* makes very limited use of available laws that could help protect species.
* receives minimal funding to carry out this work; but
* doesn’t provide detailed advice to support more funding.
* lacks performance indicators and reporting to show if it might be halting species decline.
* admits its broad cost-effective actions will not protect all species.
* tried to water down the objectives of the FFGA that ALL species persist and improve in the wild, to simply protect the most species possible.
* knows it cannot guarantee protection of all threatened species.
* lacks accountability and has gaps and flaws in its reporting on performance indicators.
* does not have the data to show any improvement in threatened species’ status.
* does not do long term monitoring.
* does not routinely report against on-ground outcomes for threatened species programs.
* underuses or ignores Action Statements to protect listed species.
* has a backlog of unwritten Action Statements that has become worse.
* has written Action Statements for only 20% of listed species, of which many are older than 10 years and needing review.
* does not have a transparent process to prioritise the protection of critically endangered species.
* can’t guarantee the reliability of the modelled outputs and the decisions.
The VAGO report refreshingly describes it by its correct term “LOGGING” (not timber harvesting!) and acknowledges that it is a direct threat to species. Other threats are government planned burns and climate change.
Nine process recommendations by the VAGO have been accepted by DELWP. They have 1-2 years to act on them.
The Age reported the story here.
But millions to burn forest ecosystems
As an interesting aside … DELWP’s ’21-’22 budget comes to 2.9 BILLION but there seems to never be enough money to properly protect the environment. Of that, almost $500 million is to escslate the burning and bulldozing program under ‘fire management’.
This is also telling; $475 million for ‘mitigating the impact of future bushfire seasons‘. This is code for far more planned burns in unburnt habitats and ecosystems, more massive cleared corridors through forests as visual reassurance to the public, and various resources allocated to large machinery. But how much of that fire budget has been allocated to monitoring and research? Hardly enough to fund a desk and vehicle, let alone a wage; about $59,000.