In a new report, it has been discovered that one-third of Australia’s threatened species are not subject to any formal monitoring program and monitoring for the remaining two-thirds is poorly done.
The findings come from a report by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, after it was discovered that the federal environment department in Australia could cut up to 60 jobs in its biodiversity and conservation divisions, which conducts threatened species assessment and monitoring.
The review assessed monitoring programs against nine criteria, including whether they covered the species’ entire range, the monitoring is conducted regularly and over an extended period of time, ensuring monitoring is clearly linked to management strategies and whether the data from monitoring was publicly available.
The results were astonishing and opened eyes up to the mismanagement of protecting species as almost half of all fish and reptile species received no monitoring and 21% of mammals were not monitored.
The review leader, Professor Sarah Legge said, “It’s like trying to manage your household budget when you don’t know what’s in your bank account. If you don’t know what the trends of those populations are … you have got no way of knowing if your management interventions are working.”
Australia has 548 threatened animal species, of which 506 have been officially listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“The reality is that only a fraction of our threatened species have a recovery plan and that fraction is decreasing all the time,” Legge said.
“It has been a bit depressing, honestly – the last few years with budget cuts and the way recovery plans have been funded … That whole space is a bit depressing,” she said. “To see that these policy interventions do have impacts is nice and it is worth persisting with them.”
Legge did say a number of species had “very effective” monitoring programs conducted by NGOs or Indigenous corporations, which covered a particular portion of the species’ range, but few species had monitoring that covered their entire range.