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Threatened Species Scientific Committee Annual Report 2002-2003

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:

Key Documents

The Committee produced the following key documents in the last year:

The Committee initiated the following key documents in the last year. They are expected to be completed in 2003-2004.

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.

Table 1: Threatened Species Scientific Committee assessment of nominations from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 1
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
Invertebrates 8 3 3 3 5 13 6 14
Fish 33 8 8 0 2 0 0 33
Frogs 31 2 0 0 0 0 0 31
Reptiles 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 50
Birds 119 8 7 1 1 7 5 124
Mammals 113 2 2 1 1 0 0 113
All Animals 354 23 20 5 9 20 11 365
Plants 1241 5 4 3 6 8 8 1246
Species 1595 28 24 8 15 28 19 1611
Added to list           15 15  
Deleted           1 1  
Transferred           3 3  
Rejected           9    
Ecological Communities 27 3 3 3 4 10 2 29
Added to list           2 2  
Deleted           0 0  
Transferred           0 0  
Rejected           8    
Key Threatening Processes 11 2 3 1 5 2 2 13
Added to list           2 2  
Deleted           0 0  
Transferred           0    
Rejected           0    
Total Items 1633 33 30 12 24 40 23 1653

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.

Advice on the making and adoption of recovery plans and threat abatement plans

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:

The recommended TAP for Chytridiomycosis was initiated during the year. Two further TAPs, recommended in the previous year, were being drafted during 2002-2003:

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.

Strategic relationships

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.