The use of Senate inquiries for threatened species conservation
Shumway, N. and Seabrook, L. (2015), The use of Senate inquiries for threatened species conservation. Ecol Manag Restor, 16: 196–198. doi:10.1111/emr.12178
Global biodiversity continues to decline at a steady rate, especially in Australia where 10% of the land mammal population has become extinct since European settlement. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) list of threatened species is Australia's version of the IUCN red-list; however, not all species fit easily within the EPBC guidelines and criteria for listing. Recently, a high-profile Senate inquiry was used to bring about the listing of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, although it had previously been deemed ineligible for threatened species status. We are concerned that the use of Senate Inquiries will become more frequent now that a precedent has been set. We suggest they are not an appropriate means of threatened species conservation because they are politically topical, not necessarily based on expert opinion and do not carry any need for legislative response. Successful species conservation should be based on sound ecological knowledge embedded within a transparent and logical decision framework.