Threatened Species Day Fact Sheet
Department of the Evironment and Heritage, 2003
- Protecting Australia's Threatened Species
- National Threatened Species Day
- Celebrate the International Year of Freshwater!
- What happens on the day?
- Where can I get more information?
Australia is home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85 per cent of flowering plants, 84 per cent of mammals, more than 45 per cent of birds, and 89 per cent of inshore, freshwater fish are endemic — that is, they are only found in Australia.
Changes to the landscape and native habitat as a result of human activity have put many of these unique species at risk. No one will ever again see a Paradise Parrot flash its rainbow colours across the sky, or see the Tasmanian Tiger slink through the wet Tasmanian forest. They are extinct. There are over 50 species of Australian animals and over 60 species of Australian plants that are extinct. Extinction is forever.
A range of management and conservation measures is in place to protect our threatened plants and animals. The Australian Government is working in partnership with State, Territory and local governments, non-government organisations, tertiary institutions and community groups to ensure the protection of our native species.
Nationally threatened species are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This Act is the main Commonwealth legislation for protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity.
National Threatened Species Day, held each year on 7 September, aims to encourage the community to prevent further extinctions of Australia's fauna and flora, and to restore healthy numbers of threatened species and ecological communities in the wild. This is a time when many Australians celebrate our unique and valuable biodiversity with activities to protect and conserve the environment.
National Threatened Species Day was first held in 1996, to commemorate the death of the last Tasmanian Tiger in captivity in 1936 in Hobart. The concept was developed by the Threatened Species Network, a community based program of the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust and the WWF Australia, as a way to showcase Australian threatened species.
By focusing attention on the plight of many of our threatened animals and plants, Threatened Species Day aims to encourage greater community support and hands-on involvement in the prevention of further losses of Australia's unique natural heritage.
As the world's second driest continent (after Antarctica), Australia must use its limited water resources wisely. Inefficient and inappropriate water use has created problems of national significance: rising water tables, increased salinity of groundwater and soil, decreasing quality of surface water, increasing evidence of algal blooms, loss of biodiversity and degradation of coastal areas.
As part of the International Year of Freshwater, Threatened Species Day is focusing on inland waters.
The Australian Government plays a fundamental role in promoting the sustainable use, management and protection of Australia's freshwater resources, and in helping to address the widespread degradation of our precious land and water resources. Through the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, the Threatened Species Network is continuing to help protect, conserve and restore threatened inland species and their habitats.
A number of events are coordinated across Australia for National Threatened Species Day to raise community awareness about the plight of threatened species in Australia and to encourage community participation in conservation activities. Activities range from exhibitions and festivals, to displays, guided walks, workshops and a range of other community education and promotional activities.
For more information on threatened species, go to the Department of the Environment and Heritage website at: www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened
For more information about the Threatened Species Network, go to www.wwf.org.au/tsn or contact them on freecall 1800 251 573
For more information about the International Year of Freshwater, go to www.freshwater2003.gov.au
For more information about National Threatened Species Day activities in your home state, there is a calendar of events and a free information kit available from the Department of the Environment and Heritage on toll-free 1800 803 772 or go to the website at: www.deh.gov.au/tsd.