Bud­get cuts hurt con­ser­va­tion

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Times | News - Karen Hunt

MORE needs to be done to pro­tect rare and threat­ened species but bud­get cuts have in­creased the chal­lenge for con­ser­va­tion agen­cies, WA Au­di­tor Gen­eral Colin Mur­phy has warned.

While some im­prove­ments had been made, he de­scribed progress as “dis­ap­point­ing”.

Mr Mur­phy made the com­ments on Septem­ber 6 as he tabled his Rich and Rare: Con­ser­va­tion of Threat­ened Species Fol­lowup Au­dit.

The State’s con­ser­va­tion task had in­creased since his 2009 re­port, he noted, with the num­ber of threat­ened species up 12 per cent to 672 and threat­ened eco­log­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties sta­ble at 66.

Mr Mur­phy said species listed as “pos­si­bly threat­ened” rose 29 per cent, not­ing that WA was the only State to main­tain a reg­is­ter of species that are at pos­si­ble threat.

At Jan­uary 2017, there were 3352 pri­or­ity species, up from 2604 in 2009. There were also 389 pri­or­ity eco­log­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties, up from 255 in 2009.

“This in­crease is in part due to greater knowl­edge, how­ever there is no doubt the re­mark­able bio­di­ver­sity of WA and the sheer size of our State makes con­serv­ing our threat­ened species a very im­por­re­port tant, but very chal­leng­ing task,” he said.

The new De­part­ment of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions’ ex­pen­di­ture and staff were now be­low 2009 lev­els while its con­ser­va­tion task had grown, he said.

Leg­is­la­tion passed in 2016 was an im­por­tant mile­stone, recog­nis­ing mod­ern con­ser­va­tion cat­e­gories and crit­i­cal habi­tat and set­ting in place tougher penal­ties for of­fences. “But progress has been dis­ap­pri­or­ity point­ing and DBCA still has con­sid­er­able work to do to put both the in­for­ma­tion and the sys­tems to use it, in place.”

On the plus side, 91 per cent of critically en­dan­gered species and eco­log­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties and 55 per cent of threat­ened species and com­mu­ni­ties had re­cov­ery or in­terim re­cov­ery plans in place.

How­ever, Mr Mur­phy said there had been lit­tle progress since 2009 in re­serv­ing land for con­ser­va­tion.

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