An open letter to the Prime Minister from 248 concerned scientists.
Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned are scientists who every day study, catalogue and document Australia's unique native species and ecosystems and work out the evidence base needed to save them. Through our work we know intimately just how important the diversity of Australia's natural world is to the fabric of our nation and our social and economic prosperity.
Sadly, our work also tells us Australia is amid an extinction crisis. We are documenting a rapid decline in the overall numbers of species and the overall diversity of wildlife across the land, rivers and seas of our country.1 Australia's native species are disappearing at an alarming rate. In the last decade alone three of our native species have been wiped out. Another 17 animals could go extinct in the next 20 years. And while there are already more than 1800 plants and animals that are formally listed as threatened with extinction, it's clear this is an underestimate. In reality, many more face extinction.
Our extinction crisis is primarily a result of habitat destruction, invasive species, altered fire regimes, disease and climate change damage. But thankfully we know that when governments lead and invest in nature conservation, and partner with researchers, Indigenous communities, conservation organisations, businesses and everyday Australians, we can successfully protect and restore our wildlife for future generations.
Increased investment in nature conservation must be backed by strong national environment laws that protect our natural world from further destruction. These laws must safeguard our intact ecosystems and protect the critical areas people and wildlife need to survive and tackle our most pressing threats. But our current laws are failing because they are too weak, have inadequate review and approval processes, and are not overseen by an effective compliance regime. Since they were established, 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat has been destroyed. That's an area larger than Tasmania. Meanwhile, the number of extinctions continue to climb, while new threats emerge and spread unchecked.
A review of our national environment laws is imminent. Your government has a once-in-a-decade opportunity to demonstrate national leadership and fix our laws in order to protect and restore nature across Australia. We urge you to embrace this opportunity, strengthen our laws, invest in nature and build a great legacy by ending our extinction crisis.