If the federal government is serious about its goal of preventing any further extinctions of Australian wildlife, it must understand that preserving habitat is key. According to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), this requires an end to human population growth.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced a zero extinction target for the country’s plants and animals as part of a 10-year plan. It will focus on 110 species and protect an additional 50 million hectares of land and seas by 2027.
SPA National President Ms Jenny Goldie said the protection of additional land and sea areas is welcome, but any human encroachment on all natural ecosystems must end.
“It’s the fragmentation and loss of habitat that makes other species threatened or even extinct,” says Ms Goldie. “There are a number of factors, including climate change, but in Australia it’s urban development and agricultural expansion that are largely to blame.
“Habitat must be protected in quantity and quality. Species are not independent of each other; they interact within ecosystems. For example, introduced species can seriously affect native species and management at the ecosystem level is required.
Ms Goldie says the potential loss of the last koala habitat in the Sydney Basin to urban development is a welcome warning.
“You cannot continue to expand the human enterprise at the expense of other species.
“The government’s ‘zero extinction’ plan will fail, just as its ‘net zero emissions’ plan must fail. Both should work around rapid government-imposed population growth, lightly regulated habitat clearing and destruction, and long-term horizons for fossil fuel exploitation and export.
Ms Goldie says urban infill is often offered as an alternative to urban sprawl and the loss of natural habitat.
“It’s a false solution because the human footprint is expanding more and more outward even as more and more people are crammed into existing cities.
“People need food, clothing and shelter, which necessitates agriculture, forestry and mining that encroach on natural ecosystems.
“The only solution is to halt population growth, which requires low net migration abroad and maintaining fertility levels below replacement level,” says Ms Goldie.