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Species at risk of extinction in Victoria

Extinction Victoria
About 2000 animals, plants and ecological communities are listed as threatened in Victoria. Photo: Getty
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Thousands of animals and plants could become extinct in Victoria thanks to climate change, invasive species and habitat loss, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

A two-year inquiry into ecosystem decline, tabled in parliament on Thursday, found native species are experiencing significant declines in population size and distribution.

About 2000 animals, plants and ecological communities are listed as threatened in Victoria, an increase from 700 five years ago.

It means the state has the highest number of threatened species by subregion in Australia.

Major threats include climate change, more frequent and intense bushfires, invasive species such as cats, foxes and rats, land clearing and changes to rivers, wetlands and flood plains.

The inquiry heard there are only approved action plans in place for about 14 per cent of threatened species. It could take up to five years for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to implement plans for the rest.

The Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee makes 74 recommendations, including that the Victorian government urgently ensures action plans are put in place for all threatened species and that appropriate funding is allocated.

They also recommend the creation of a standalone environment department, with its own minister, which will have the sole purpose of protecting the environment and native species.

Several recommendations deal with the management of invasive species, with the committee calling for a more consistent and effective approach to cat management, a phase-out of 1080 bait, and a trial reintroducing dingoes into the wild as predators.

The committee said dingoes play an important role in regulating large herbivore populations such as kangaroos, which may be over-abundant in some areas, and can help suppress invasive species.

“Dingoes are also culturally significant to traditional owners, some of whom are actively advocating for their return to country,” the report reads.

In a minority report, the Coalition opposed the proposal but recommended the government collaborate with traditional owners to offer accreditation in conservation and Indigenous land management, as is done in NSW.

The Victorian Greens, who called for the inquiry in 2019, described the report as damning.

They are calling for a major funding boost in next year’s state budget, including $200 million for a dedicated threatened species fund within DEWLP.

A coalition of environmental groups also wants a dedicated long-term threatened species program and a dramatic increase in public funding for land and sea conservation, threatened species laws and programs.

“The dozens of findings and recommendations of the ecosystem decline inquiry are a good starting point, but we now need the government to step up, invest and take urgent action to halt species and ecosystem decline before it’s too late,” Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said in a statement.

– AAP