Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2003
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee was established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Committee has continued to advise the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage on the amendment and updating of the national lists for threatened species, threatened ecological communities, and key threatening processes, together with the making or adoption of recovery plans and threat abatement plans.
Three meetings were held by the Committee in 2002-2003. They were held on 3-4 September 2002, 17-18 December 2002 and 15-16 April 2003. All meetings were in Canberra.
Highlights of the meetings included:
- Meeting with the Chairs of State Scientific Advisory Committees to discuss the compatibility of State and Commonwealth lists and listing processes.
- A workshop on prioritising conservation activities for listed threatened species and ecological communities.
- A workshop to discuss the issue of biodiversity hotspots.
- Considerable progress was made on the Committee's considerations over the issue of Critical Habitat.
The Committee produced the following key documents in the last year:
- Report on Natural Temperate Grassland. This report provided a definition of natural temperate grassland and outlined its conservation status in key bioregions of south-eastern Australia. The report was published on Environment Australia's website in 2003.
- Two papers on 'A Strategic Approach to Recovery and Threat Abatement Planning' (July and October 2002). These papers provided advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage on issues associated with recovery planning for multiple objectives, and followed previous Committee advice titled 'A Framework for Multi-Species Multi-Community Landscape Based Conservation Incentives by the Commonwealth (July 2001).
- Advice for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage on Biodiversity Hotspots. This advice was prepared in response to a request from the Minister that the Committee identify regions that quality as biodiversity hotspots, and was based on species endemism and the extent to which threatening processes place the region's biodiversity attributes at risk.
- Work plan. This is a dynamic document outlining the outputs required of the Committee and progress towards these outputs.
The Committee initiated the following key documents in the last year. They are expected to be completed in 2003-2004.
- Draft Technical Monograph on Ecological Communities. This will be a series of papers outlining the Committee's deliberations and decisions in relation to threatened ecological communities.
- Reports on Sub-alpine and Arid Woodlands. These reports, prepared by external consultants, will define the ecological communities that comprise these vegetation types and assess their conservation status. The outcome will be the nomination of those woodland ecological communities considered to be nationally threatened.
Advice on the amendment and updating of the lists of threatened species, threatened ecological communities, and key threatening processes
In 2002-2003 there were 28 nominations for threatened species, 3 nominations for threatened ecological communities and 2 nominations for key threatening processes received under the EPBC Act.
The Committee considered preliminary advices for 24 species, 3 ecological communities and 3 key threatening processes nominations. Apart from 2 advices, these covered nominations received in 2002-2003. The Committee finalised their advice on 8 species nominations, 3 ecological community nominations and 1 key threatening process nomination.
The Committee provided advice to the Minister on 15 species nominations, 4 ecological community nominations and 5 key threatening process nominations. The advice of the Committee resulted in 19 amendments to the list of threatened species, 2 amendments to the list of threatened ecological communities, and 2 amendments to the list of key threatening processes. Amendments to the lists of threatened ecological communities and key threatening processes solely comprised new listings. However amendments to the list of threatened species comprised 15 new listings, 1 deletion from the list, 2 transfers to a higher category of threat (from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered) and 1 transfer from Extinct to Endangered.
|Group||Listed at 30/6/022||Nominations received||Prelim. Advice||Listing advice||Ministerial decisions||Changes to the List||Listed at 30/6/032|
|Final Committee recommendations||Advice to the Minister|
|Added to list||15||15|
|Added to list||2||2|
|Key Threatening Processes||11||2||3||1||5||2||2||13|
|Added to list||2||2|
1 Apparent anomalies in the data can be attributed to the continuing assessment of nominations that occurs across financial years.
2 Covers all listed categories.
In 2002-03 the Committee considered 9 draft recovery plans. One recovery plan considered by the Committee in 2001-2002 was adopted by the Minister in 2002-2003.
The Committee provided advice to the Minister on the listing of 5 key threatening processes. Threat Abatement Plans (TAP) were recommended as a feasible, effective and efficient way to abate 2 of these threatening processes:
- Infection of Amphibians with Chytrid Fungus Resulting in Chytridiomycosis; and
- The Reduction in the Biodiversity of Australian Native Fauna and Flora due to the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Fire Ant).
The recommended TAP for Chytridiomycosis was initiated during the year. Two further TAPs, recommended in the previous year, were being drafted during 2002-2003:
- Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs; and
- Psittacine Circoviral (Beak and Feather) Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species.
In addition to assessing new nominations for key threatening processes, the Committee also reviewed 4 key threatening processes that had been previously listed or considered.
Over the past year the Committee considered papers on a range of issues. These included papers on biodiversity hotspots, rarity, nomenclatural changes to listed species, priority status of small cetaceans, the applicability of NSW critical habitat processes to the Commonwealth's register of critical habitat and progress of threat abatement plans and recovery plans in preparation.
The Committee is committed to taking a consultative and educative approach to its role and responsibilities. The Committee continues to build relationships with State Agencies, Threatened Species Committees, individuals and organisations which provide expertise to the listing process, and those affected by or interested in listing decisions, such as non-government organisations, community and industry groups.
The public consultation process for new nominations commenced on 1 May 2002. Throughout 2002-2003, those new nominations received and submitted to the Committee as preliminary advices were made available for public comment on Environment Australia's website. This resulted in several submissions being received from the public. The adoption of the public consultation process has successfully resulted in a more open and transparent consultation process.
In December 2002, the Committee met with the Chairs of State/Territory Scientific Advisory Committees to discuss how the various threatened species/ecological communities lists and the listing processes could be aligned and maintained. Objectives and steps forward were proposed for each Committee to discuss further, with a view to achieving a consensus on a cooperative approach.