VICTORIANS have been encouraged by the State Government to have their say on the review of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 to ensure it better protects the state's biodiversity.
A consultation paper has been prepared to seek community views on the almost 30-year old Act and how it could be improved by incorporating improvements to the knowledge of native flora and fauna.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D'Ambrosio, said the government is developing a new direction for the management of biodiversity in Victoria to stop the decline of the state's native flora and fauna and address the impacts of climate change.
"Together, we can ensure our laws provide strong and effective protection for our valuable biodiversity, while ensuring our economy can continue to grow and prosper."
The release of the consultation paper was welcomed by Environmental Justice Australia, Victorian National Parks Association and Environment Victoria, who described the current Act as being 'woefully ineffective' at protecting Victoria's threatened species and natural landscapes.
Matt Ruchel, Executive Director at Victorian National Parks Association, said Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia, with 18 species of mammal, two birds, one snake, three types of fish and 51 plants having become extinct since European settlement.
"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," Mr Ruchel said.
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.
The State Government review aligns with other biodiversity initiatives, including the draft biodiversity plan Protecting Victoria's Environment – Biodiversity 2036, and the review of the native vegetation clearing regulations.
More information is available from the Victorian Government's Engage Victoria website at <https://engage.vic.gov.au/review-flora-and-fauna-guarantee-act-1988>. The consultation period closes on 13 March 2017.