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Uncuddly but crucial: the overlooked species needing our help this World Environment Day

The Bugle App

Donna Portland

05 June 2024, 3:21 AM

Uncuddly but crucial: the overlooked species needing our help this World Environment Day

Australia's less glamorous animals, often referred to as “uncuddlies” like reptiles, fish, and insects, are driving a rapid increase in the number of threatened species. This World Environment Day - 5 June - Australians are encouraged to show these often-overlooked creatures some much-needed love and attention.

The latest Australia en Danger report from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), in collaboration with public affairs analysts Provocate®, highlights the critical need for action. CVA Executive Manager of Policy and Government Relations, Stephen McDonald, emphasised that threatened “uncuddlies” have grown at twice the average rate of threatened animals overall, increasing by 16% in just the past two years.

"Critically endangered reptiles and fish, which are on the brink of extinction, have seen alarming increases of 136% and 178%, respectively, since the Albanese Government launched its Federal Threatened Species Action Plan," Mr McDonald stated.

Politicians often use charismatic animals like koalas to make a point on days like World Environment Day. However, while it may not be desirable - or safe - to cuddle a snake, skink, or snail, these findings show that Australia’s threatened "uncuddlies" urgently need support and protection. This is especially crucial in urban areas, where nearly half of the threatened species now reside. Simple actions, such as creating a one-by-one meter habitat in your backyard or balcony, can make a significant difference.

Mr McDonald stressed that widespread community action is vital to prevent these species from disappearing entirely. He urged Australians to visit Conservation Volunteers Australia to sign up for nature repair and resilience events, download CVA’s community app, or make a donation.

"Australia has lost tens of thousands of conservation volunteers and tens of millions of dollars in Federal funding over the same period that our threatened species numbers have skyrocketed," said Mr McDonald. "This includes the Albanese Government's decision to cut the nation's mud army for wildlife and their habitats, despite many of these threatened species being affected by the Black Summer Bushfires."

Alarming Statistics Since the Albanese Government's Threatened Species Action Plan (October 2022):

  • Threatened reptiles (+35%; +23 species), fish (+30%; +19 species), and invertebrates (+39%; +28 species) have all grown at twice the average net increase in threatened animal species overall (+16%; +92 species).
  • These increases are 26, 13, and 9 times higher, respectively, than the average growth under the previous Coalition government's nine years in office.
  • In contrast, there has been a 0% increase in mammals, a 9% increase in birds, and a 14% increase in other species.
  • Critically endangered fish and reptiles have seen near tripling (+178%) and more than doubling (+136%) of their numbers, compared to a 46% overall increase in critically-endangered species.
  • Despite these severe increases, there has been no rise in the number of 'priority' threatened species classifications under the Threatened Species Action Plan, which are crucial for accessing government grants.
  • Out of the 110 'priority' species in the current Action Plan, only 11 are reptiles, 11 are invertebrates, and 9 are fish.
  • The Federal Government’s 2024-25 Budget did not include any new plans or 'Saving Native Species' funding and confirmed that the $90 million Landcare Rangers election commitment has been quietly shelved.
  • The Albanese Government has also discontinued the nation's marine litter and environmental disaster volunteering programs, previously managed by CVA, which had over 25,000 volunteers, with no replacements in place.
  • Proposed reforms to conservation laws have also been shelved by the Albanese Government.

This World Environment Day let’s remember that every species, no matter how "uncuddly," plays a vital role in our ecosystem. By acting now, we can help ensure their survival for future generations.