New report provides direction for reform of Victoria’s threatened species law

80 years ago this week, the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger died at Hobart Zoo. National Threatened Species Week now marks this anniversary, and is a time to reflect on the state of native flora and fauna and the laws that supposedly protect threatened species.  To commemorate National Threatened Species week, EJA has released a report setting out recommendations on how the government can meet its election promise and fix Victoria’s broken nature protection laws.

Successive State of the Environment reports for Victoria document the continuing decline of Victoria’s plants and animals while ineffectual nature laws remain unchanged. Harmful environmental activities – like clearing of land and destruction of roadside habitats – continue unabated in Victoria. 

The key law protecting threatened species in Victoria – the 1988 Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFG Act) is well overdue for an overhaul. The Victorian government needs to do better at protecting threatened species and do more to reverse trajectories of decline.

That’s why, in 2014 the incoming ALP Victorian government made an election promise to review the FFG Act. However, EJA has concerns that 18 months on from its election promise, the government has made no progress towards reviewing and amending the FFG Act.

EJA is providing much needed direction to the government on how it should push forward with reform of Victoria’s key nature protection law. A snapshot of our report is summarised in our five-point plan for the future direction of the FFG Act:  

  1. Public authorities must be obligated to act consistently with the FFG Act.
  2. Landscape scale conservation and ecological restoration should become a central focus of the FFG Act.
  3. Threatened species provisions must be retained and overhauled so that listing processes become easier and more efficient to administer; and the tools used to protect threatened species expanded and made mandatory.
  4. Environmental justice provisions should be incorporated into the FFG Act.
  5. The foundations of the FFG Act – its purpose, objectives and environmental principles – need to be updated.

If each of the above components was adopted by the Victorian government as we suggest, then the FFG Act would provide real protection for our precious threatened species and a set a high environmental standard for other states to follow.

If you’d like to know more about our work on the FFG Act or if you think your community would benefit from a legal workshop focusing on reform of the FFG Act and other nature protection issues, then please contact [email protected].

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