Environmental Justice Australia, Victorian National Parks Association and Environment Victoria welcome the Victorian Government’s public consultation report released today about reform of Victoria’s key nature protection law, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. The discussion paper opens the door to a long-overdue upgrade.
The groups have long been calling for an overhaul of the FFG Act, saying that it has proven to be woefully ineffective at protecting Victoria’s threatened species and natural landscapes.
Sarah Brugler, Lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, said:
“The review of the FFG Act represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Victoria to make much-needed improvements to its main nature protection law.
“Today’s discussion paper is an important step towards realising the government’s election promise to review the FFG Act, but this promise needs to deliver real improvements in the legislation. Victoria needs threatened species laws that actually protect threatened species.”
Matt Ruchel, Executive Director at Victorian National Parks Association, said:
“Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia; since European settlement 18 species of mammal, two birds, one snake, three types of fish and 51 plants have become extinct in Victoria. Our laws that are supposed to protect nature are clearly not doing their job.
“Between one quarter and one third of all Victoria land-based plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are considered threatened with extinction. We need to do more to reverse these trends and good nature protection laws are a critical part.”
Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaign Manager at Environment Victoria, said:
“The bush and the unique animals that live there are part of our identity. Victorians care about their environment and want to see strong laws to protect nature. This means treating landscapes as a whole and preparing for how climate change will affect our flora and fauna.
“You can’t have a healthy society or a healthy economy without a having a healthy environment, and you can’t have a healthy environment if native species are being driven to extinction.”
Environment Victoria, EJA and Victorian National Parks Association look forward to working with the Government to ensure that Victoria’s nature laws achieve better outcomes for threatened species and natural landscapes in Victoria.
Conservation groups are calling for five key elements to be in new legislation:
- A fair go for threatened species by removing exemptions and special treatments for government departments and some industries.
- Stronger stop and protect powers with clear requirements for the Minister to intervene when important species or habitats are under threat
- A nature cop on the beat with stronger enforcement, real penalties and better monitoring
- Clear targets and timelines to direct investment and programs for threatened species protection and recovery, across the whole state.
- Giving community power to act, including capacity to determine regional plans and ability to initiate legal action to protect threatened species.