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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 1995) . . Page.. 1437 ..

In undertaking this task, members reviewed recent developments made by other nature conservation organisations. They considered similar criteria and guidelines used by the International Union for Nature Conservation, the Commonwealth and Australian State governments, particularly Victoria. A document containing draft criteria was released for public comment in May this year. The committee has considered comment received, and the final criteria have been agreed and specified as required under the Nature Conservation Act.

Should the committee determine that a species or ecological community is threatened with extinction, then it will advise the Minister and recommend that a corresponding declaration be made. There are a number of categories under which an item may be declared. A species may be declared to be either vulnerable or endangered, depending on the degree of threat to its survival; and an ecological community may be declared as endangered. A similar process of assessment and declaration applies to threatening processes. A threatening process will be considered to be ecologically significant if it threatens or may threaten the survival in the wild of native species and communities. Identification of threatened species and communities is an essential first step in developing necessary conservation measures.

The instrument I am tabling today is the culmination of the last six months’ work by the Flora and Fauna Committee. These criteria are a fundamental component of the process for identifying threatened species in a consistent and scientific manner. In this context, I would point out that it is the committee's role to assess the status of an item based on nature conservation grounds only, and this is clearly reflected in the criteria. Once a species community or process has been identified and declared, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna is required to develop a management response by way of an action plan. An action plan will examine relevant conservation issues and propose measures for enhanced conservation of a declared species or community, or the management of a declared threatening process. A draft of an action plan will be released to the public for a period of comment.

I consider it important for the Flora and Fauna Committee to be involved in the preparation of action plans, and I have agreed to the plans being referred to the committee before they are finalised. Through this process, Mr Speaker, the ACT Government will be endeavouring to avoid ecologically irreversible actions and to ensure the long-term conservation of the biological diversity of the ACT region. Mr Speaker, the criteria specified in this instrument will guide the identification of threatened species, ecological communities and threatening processes in the Territory and will support an increased management focus on conservation of biological diversity within the region. I commend the instrument to the house. I present the following paper:

Flora and Fauna Assessment Criteria - tabling statement.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the papers.

Debate (on motion by Ms Horodny) adjourned.

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