Next week, the first Threatened Species Summit will be held at Melbourne Zoo. The Federal Government has invited 250 environmental science leaders from across Australia to network and talk conservation.
Given Australia’s wildlife is in dire straits, this is an important set of discussions to have. However, governments are increasingly recognising the issue and putting some effort into halting species loss. Most recently, the New South Wales Government announced a partnership with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to restore habitat and a raft of species in select national parks in the State. It’s initiatives like this, focusing on large-scale restoration, that are required across Australia.
This week, Wild Melbourne was able to chat to Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews about the Summit. He describes the Summit as being able to “…raise the national profile of Australia’s extinction crisis, mobilise new resources and partnerships, and kick-start the science, action and partnership-based approach to threatened species recovery that is outlined in the Threatened Species Strategy, which Minister Hunt will launch at the beginning of the Summit.”
According to Andrews, the new Threatened Species Strategy is a line-in-the-sand moment for Australian conservation: “Clearly, ‘business as usual’ for threatened plants and animals in Australia would mean more extinctions. Our threatened species deserve no less, and by working on the basis of science, focusing on practical action, and partnering with state and territory governments and the community, it’s possible.”
The Strategy will focus on community action and partnerships, following from Andrews’ work across Australia over the past year: “My office and I have reached out to the community, forged partnerships and worked collaboratively with all levels of government, scientists, ‘Friends of’ groups, the non-profit sector and industry to secure more resources, build innovative approaches, encourage better coordination of conservation efforts, share information and promote action. I have been particularly humbled, but also enthused by the effort and care that so many Australian communities have for our unique animals and plants.”
Importantly, the Summit and the release of the new Strategy will thrust the plight of Australia’s threatened species into the national spotlight. As the Commissioner told Wild Melbourne, “our threatened animals and plants are ours to protect and we all have a role to play.”
The Threatened Species Summit promises to be an interesting day of discussion that the public will be able to follow online by webcast on the Threatened Species Commissioner’s website and via the official Summit hashtag on Twitter: #TSsummit.