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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Greater Safety in Numbers for Endangered Species

9 July 1997

For the first time, the habitat of Australian native species can be listed as nationally endangered and receive the same protection as individual species.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the move to recognise and conserve ecological communities at risk of extinction is a major advance for nature conservation in Australia.

Senator Hill has also released new guidelines to assist people interested in nominating ecological communities to be classified as nationally endangered.

"The Howard Government is committed to protecting Australia's native species and their habitats, to prevent any more of our unique plants or animals becoming extinct.

"The concept of listing individual species as nationally endangered, such as the Long-footed Potoroo or Humpback Whale, is well known.

"What can now happen is that ecological communities which are likely to become extinct if threats to their survival are not addressed can also be formally classified as endangered and listed under Commonwealth legislation.

"The new provisions enable conservation action by State and Territory agencies, scientists and the community to focus more broadly on protecting entire communities of species and their habitats, rather than one species at a time.

"There has been a strong public demand for a scientific but practical means of protecting endangered groups of species and the government has responded.

"The Endangered Species Scientific Subcommittee, whose advice I sought on this matter, has conducted a thorough public consultation process.

"The subcommittee had little international information to draw on when preparing the new guidelines and has conducted ground-breaking work.

"Through the Natural Heritage Trust, the government is providing $4.3 million in 1997-98 to protect endangered species and ecological communities."

There are 77 animal species and 235 plant species listed as nationally endangered under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. Copies of Listing Endangered Ecological Communities: Guidelines for Nomination and Assessment of Proposals are available from Environment Australia on 06 250 0200.

Julie Marks, Senator Hill's office, 06 277 7640; 0419 693 515
Jim Crennan, Environment Australia, 06 250 0766

Commonwealth of Australia