Australia sets target for conservation of endangered species

Australia sets target for conservation of endangered species

CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia has laid out a conservation plan to prevent the extinction of its plants and animals, an ambitious target for a country that has lost species at one of the highest rates in the world.

The government announcement came after years of extreme weather events like wildfires and heat waves that threatened the nation's unique species, as well as a new five-year survey that found its environment and wildlife were facing even greater threats than previously acknowledged, driven by climate change.

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, said in a statement announcing the plan. "Our current approach has not been working." She said these are the strongest targets we have seen.

The 10 year plan includes a commitment by the Center-left Labor government to conserve 30 percent of the nation's landmass, bringing Australia in line with dozens of other nations, including the United States, that have signed on to the same goal. The report said that 22 percent of Australia's landmass is currently protected, and increased that figure to 30 percent would mean an increase of 61 million hectares, or more than 235,000 square miles.