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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2848 ..

Environment—threatened species

Ministerial statement

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (10.30): I am pleased to deliver to the Assembly today a ministerial statement on threatened species. In the ACT there are currently 53 species and three ecological communities listed as threatened under the Nature Conservation Act 2014. This means that they have been assessed as likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future.

There are many threats facing these species and communities. Some of the key threats include the loss of mature native trees and habitat fragmentation caused by historic land clearing and Canberra’s urban expansion; invasive plants and animals; disease; and, increasingly, the impact of climate change. It is a global shame that Australia has the worst extinction rate in the world, and extinctions will only continue as the climate continues to warm.

Canberra has already borne the brunt of the effects of extreme weather, through heat, fire, smoke, hail and flood. These shocks, combined with ongoing changes to climate, are increasing the threats over coming years. Threatened species and ecological communities are important to all Canberrans for the roles they play in providing us with ecosystem services. However, they are important for their intrinsic value too.

The ACT government currently runs over 20 threatened species programs and research projects. They are delivered by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, working in strong collaborative partnerships with a range of universities, zoos, botanic gardens, state and Australian government agencies, and community conservation organisations. Strengthening our partnerships is critical for delivering outcomes for threatened species. This has included recent investment to support catchment groups and ACT wildlife. We are also co-designing an approach with peak bodies, including the ACT Conservation Council, Friends of Grasslands, the Canberra Ornithologist Group and our catchment groups, to establish a biodiversity forum. This forum will explore joined-up actions to deliver existing strategies and to tackle issues like climate adaptation and connectivity across the ACT. In order to ensure the long-term protection of these species, the development of an ACT government threatened species strategy is underway. The strategy will outline the ways that we can address threats to our native plants and animals.

The ACT government is a key partner in many collaborative initiatives for the conservation of species. The innovative citizen science platform Canberra Nature Map is a leading example of community input and engagement helping us to deliver better outcomes for our diversity. Over the last year alone, 600 new rare and threatened flora and fauna records have been added to the platform. The ACT government’s ACTMAPi online spatial platform makes data on threatened species and communities from a range of sources publicly available to inform conservation and planning stakeholders, within and beyond government. These two resources provide critical data to inform land management, planning and conservation.

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