Australia lists Grey snake, wallaby as threatened species

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Australia lists Grey snake, wallaby as threatened species

Australia's government pledged to stop plant and animal extinctions on Tuesday, as it listed the grey snake and a small wallaby among 15 new threatened species.

Wildlife groups say that many of Australia's unique species are clinging to existence, their habitats are shrinking from human activity and extreme events such as the 2019 to 2020 Black Summer bushfires.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced a new 10 year scheme to try to halt the slide into extinction of 110 priority species and protect 20 priority places from further degradation.

It set out to prevent any new extinctions of plants and animals while conserving 30 per cent of Australia's land mass.

Wildlife groups blame Australia's poor record in protecting its unique species largely on habitat destruction, accelerated by global warming and resulting extreme weather.

The Black Summer fires burned through 5.8 million hectares in eastern Australia and killed or displaced an estimated 1 billion to 3 billion animals.

The Black Summer bushfires have seen devastating results for many species. "We are determined to give wildlife a better chance," said Tanya Plibersek, Environment Minister.

Listed species as threatened under the national environment law is a critical step in protecting the species and habitats in need of urgent help. The minister said Australia's attempts to protect its wildlife had not worked.

Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world, she said.

Among the 15 plants and animals listed as threatened are the endangered mildly-venomous grey snake of Queensland, the vulnerable small parma wallaby threatened by bushfires and predators and the endangered small, wingless matchstick grasshopper, sensitive to drought and frequent bushfires.

The protection of the species under environmental conservation law is offered by listing a species as threatened.

Wildlife groups welcomed the government's goal of preventing new plant or animal extinctions.

The Australian Conservation Foundation's nature program manager Basha Stasak said the objective is ambitious but essential if future generations of Australians are to see animals like koalas, mountain pygmy possums, greater gliders and gang gang cockatoos.

The goal is to stop the destruction of wildlife habitat. Stasak called on the government to strengthen national environment law, saying it had failed to protect animals, plants and ecosystems.

The cost of tackling Australia's extinction crisis was estimated at A $1.69 billion US $1 billion a year, according to Stasak.

A five-yearly State of the Environment report released in July painted a picture of the wildlife devastation on land and sea.

It said the clearing of millions of hectares of primary forest and mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef was caused by marine heatwaves.

WWF-Australia called for investment in recovery plans for all threatened species.

Australia's wildlife and wild places have been on a downward spiral, said Rachel Lowry, WWF-Australia chief conservation officer.

She welcomed Australia's target of zero new extinctions, saying it matched the goals of New Zealand and the European Union member countries.

Lowry pressed the government to set out and fund a recovery plan for the more than 1,900 threatened species in Australia.

She said that the plan picks 110 winners.

It's not clear how much it will help our other 'non-priority' threatened species such as our endangered greater glider for example. The government said that priority would be given to certain species and locations to deliver flow-on benefits to other threatened plants and animals in the same habitat.