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Media Release
Federal Minister for theEnvironment and Heritage
David Kemp

26 August 2003

Kemp Acts to Protect Australia's Biodiversity from Climate Change


Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced a new nationwide strategic approach to protect Australia's biodiversity from the impacts of climate change.

"The Australian Government, together with the States and Territories, is developing a National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan," Dr Kemp said.

"Together we have appointed an all-governments task force to work on the Plan as a matter of urgency. Their first step is an Australia-wide consultation process which will kick off in early September, with the draft Plan to be submitted to the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in April next year.

"To help the task force develop their recommendations, I am releasing today a scientific snapshot of climate change threats to Australia's biodiversity."

Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity in Australia - prepared by the Australian Government's Biological Diversity Advisory Committee and CSIRO - is the experts' assessment of how our changing climate is affecting Australian reefs, forests, grasslands and rivers, animals and plants. The Report poses a range of scenarios on the possible local impacts of global warming over the coming century.

"Our first priority in protecting our landscapes and wildlife must be cutting greenhouse emissions," Dr Kemp said. "While only global action will be effective, the Government's $1 billion greenhouse investment is on track to cutting Australia's climate change gases by 60 million tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking all passenger cars off Australia's roads.

"Our second priority is to build up the resilience of our species to help them adapt to climate change. Through our $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and our $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water, we are regenerating and protecting our land, waterways, coasts and habitats, making our ecosystems less vulnerable to climate change.

"Protecting our species requires concerted action by all governments, particularly on land clearing, and I look forward to working with the States and Territories on this plan of action."

Dr Kemp said governments would be looking for the draft plan to address the Report's findings, including:

"The National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan will identify actions to manage our species and landscapes most at risk. The task force will look at a wide range of options including opportunities for landholders to develop refuges for endangered species, or new management practices for climate sensitive areas. The Action Plan will help governments, landowners and resource managers make adaptation to climate change part of their core business," Dr Kemp said.

"Like other countries, we still have a lot to learn about the likely local impacts of global warming. The Australian Government's Climate Change Forward Strategy, now under development, will consider what further research is needed."

Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity in Australia is available at www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/science/bdac/greenhouse/index.html

Commonwealth of Australia