24 Feb 2020


Let’s end the extinction crisis now

In the last decade, three of Australia’s native species have gone extinct and hundreds more are on the verge of extinction. Australia already has the worst mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. It’s not the kind of international record we can be proud of. 

Before this summer’s catastrophic bushfires, our koalas, rock-wallabies and hundreds of other threatened species were already doing it tough from losing their habitat due to deforestation, and the pressure of invasive species and diseases. 

And now, working with Prof Chris Dickman, eminent ecologist at University of Sydney, we estimate that 1.25 billion animals- mammals, birds and reptiles- have been killed by the recent catastrophic bushfires. A panel of eminent scientists has identified 113 animal species that need urgent intervention if they are to survive the impact of this season’s fires. This includes 13 birds, 19 mammals and 20 reptile species, along with many frogs and freshwater species found nowhere else in the world. Most of these animals have had at least 30% of their habitat burnt, and for some it’s been much more. Some of our wildlife, like the Kangaroo Island dunnart, Pugh’s frog and Blue Mountains water skink, are now at imminent risk of extinction.

The impacts of climate change are very real. We’re now seeing longer summer heatwaves, severe drought and the most intense fires in Australia recorded history – and it’s putting more and more pressure on our wildlife. Our scientists have been trying to tell us that Australia is in the midst of an “extinction crisis”. Clearly, something has to change. 

It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of such a crisis. But, the bushfire emergency has shown just how much people from Australia and all around the world care about our amazing wildlife. It shines a light on how powerful our individual actions can be when we all act together. We can turn the tide on Australia’s extinction crisis, but we need to act now. 

Here are six simple, yet powerful ways that you can help save our precious Australian wildlife today. 

1. Donate Today

A koala on a burnt tree, Kangaroo Island
A koala on a burnt tree, Kangaroo Island © Julie Fletcher / WWF-Australia

Last summer, Australia was ravaged by the most devastating bushfire season the country has ever seen. Sadly, it saw 34 human lives lost, 2,774 homes and buildings destroyed, and over 12 million hectares of Australian land burnt. Tragically, over 1.25 billion animals, many found nowhere else in the world, perished. Many struggling Australian species have now been pushed even further towards the brink of extinction.

But all hope is not lost. Help is urgently needed to support our second phase of bushfire recovery work to deliver: wildlife response, habitat restoration for people and nature, and future-proofing for Australia.

Please, donate today to help our precious wildlife and habitats recover from this disaster.

2. Make your voice heard

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a tree, Thailand.
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a tree, Thailand. © Shutterstock / Yatra / WWF

Right now, the Australian Government is running a once-in-10-year review of Australia’s environmental laws. You have a chance to have your say. We need major changes to our laws to ensure we have ambitious plans in place to help the recovery of our already threatened wildlife. We need to make sure the critical habitats and native bushland where they make their homes are protected.

You can help by telling our decision-makers how important Australian wildlife is to you and asking them to take a stand. It only takes 60 seconds to add your name and your own message, and we’ll send your submission to the Review Panel on your behalf.

3. Plant native trees

WWF-Australia joins a community tree planting event at Cook Reserve Ruse, Campelltown, May 2019
© WWF-Australia / Leonie Sii

Tree planting is one of the most important ways to help recover what we have lost at both the local and global scale. Our wildlife need access to native trees for shelter and crucial food supplies. Trees and forests also provide vital ecosystem services like regulating climate, weather and rainfall patterns, along with pumping out fresh oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. 

You can help by planting native trees in your own garden or by getting involved in your local bush regeneration group. You can also be part of an ambitious project to protect or plant two billion trees across Australia by 2030 by adopting a tree in WWF’s Towards Two Billion Trees program today. 

4. Change your energy provider

The Walney offshore windfarm constructed by Dong Energy. Cumbria= UK
© Global Warming Images / WWF

What does electricity have to do with wildlife? Making the switch to a different energy provider is one of the quickest and easiest ways to help curb climate change and the impacts on native wildlife. More than one-third of Australia’s emissions comes from electricity consumption, so this is one area where you can have a real impact by making conscious choices at home. 

Change to a renewable-friendly energy retailer and sign up to their green power plan today.

5. Use less plastic 

Plastic bag floating in the ocean
Plastic bag floating in the ocean © naturepl.com / Sue Daly / WWF

Australia produces almost 3 million tonnes of plastic every year, but less than 9% of plastics are recycled which means that the rest ends up in landfill – a big contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. On top of that, plastic pollution is a major problem for our marine wildlife and birdlife, with 130,000 tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans each year. Unfortunately, this means that animals like sea turtles and threatened seabirds can become tangled in plastic. Or they mistake it for food and ingest it. Either way, it’s having a disastrous impact on our wildlife.

You can reduce your plastic use, recycle and help take action in your local community. Choose three ideas from the link below to help reduce your plastic use.

6. Reduce food waste

Trashed vegetables in dumpster GNU Foerster / commons.wikimedia

Did you know that reducing food waste is another way to help tackle climate change? 30% of the food we buy ends up in landfill and emits methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Every time we throw out food, we are also wasting the amount of energy and water used to grow, make, transport and sell it. Click on the link for simple ideas to reduce your food footprint.

Together, our actions are powerful. And, there’s one more thing you can do. Please share this blog with your friends, family and anyone who cares about the future of our amazing wildlife. Let’s take a stand and share it far and wide!