BUDGET LETS THREATENED WILDLIFE DOWN
Tonight’s federal budget has fallen short in delivering the funding needed to halt the decline of Australia’s environment.
WWF-Australia’s Chief Conservation Officer Rachel Lowry said the budget had provided some nudges in the right direction on a number of fronts, but nowhere near enough to counter the unparalleled impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.
“We’re pleased to see funds allocated for an environment protection agency to enforce Australia’s environment laws,” said Ms Lowry.
“This agency can be a game-changer for the protection of wildlife and wild places if set-up well."
“It’s critical that these funds are used to create an EPA that has the independence and resources to ensure every Australian, business and industry is doing the right thing by nature."
“We also welcome the funding to establish a dedicated environmental data agency."
“However, the budget has not delivered nearly enough funds for new protected areas and threatened species recovery."
“This government has made worthy and welcome pledges to prevent any new extinctions and protect at least 30% of Australia’s land by 2030. But the funds to back these commitments don’t take us anywhere near what’s been promised, and what’s needed to prevent further wildlife extinctions."
“Australia currently protects approximately 21% of its land. To expand our protected area network by up to 107 million hectares, we need seed funding for new national parks and Indigenous Protected Areas, in addition to sustained funding to maintain existing parks.”
In its budget submission, WWF-Australia also recommended a threatened species recovery package in line with the $1.69 billion per year that scientists estimate is needed to recover Australia’s threatened species.
“Australia’s growing threatened species list is a direct result of inadequate funding for species recovery,” said Ms Lowry.
“Australia’s federal budgets keep letting our threatened wildlife down. The number of threatened species has increased by 8% since 2016 and we’re losing vast stretches of forests and habitat every year. Our wildlife cannot afford to wait for another year and another budget.”
Ms Lowry applauded the government’s plan to establish and fund a National Net Zero Authority, and welcomed new investments in renewable energy exports, including green hydrogen.
“The National Net Zero Authority will have a critical role to play in ensuring that Australia’s shift to renewable energy delivers for people and nature,” she said.
Ms Lowry also noted the funding allocated to progress the government's Nature Positive Plan, but called for more tools in the ‘nature positive toolkit’.
“Australia’s nature is in crisis. A nature positive plan by its very title sets the aspiration to halt and reverse nature loss. This is absolutely the aspiration Australia needs. But to achieve success, the scale of funding needs to match the size of the problem,” she said.
Ms Lowry said making the environment a budget priority would not only benefit Australia’s wildlife, but also its people and economy.
“The health of our natural landscapes and species is fundamental to our own health,” she said.
“Investment in Australia’s environment is an investment in the wellbeing of everyday Australians. Nature contributes to our health, our cultural identity, and our sense of place."
“Nature-based investments can also provide smart economic stimulus when done well. The win wins are there, we just need the government to see them and seize them."
“Investing in the environment is equivalent to investing in natural infrastructure, supplying essential ecosystem services that underpin our major industries and our economy."
“Australia’s government has the opportunity to lead a regenerative agenda for Australia’s people and nature. But to achieve that we need federal budgets that place regeneration at the heart of our economy.”