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Environmental Legislation and Planning: The Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-20130

22nd May, 2013

The Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030

Introduction of the topic

The Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 suggests that, ‘Business as usual is no longer an option’ (p. 21). If so, what other options might exist to better protect Australia’s unique biodiversity? Australia as a nation plays home to between 600,000 and 700,000 species, and most of which are not found in the other parts of the world. Seemingly about 45% of birds, 84% of plants and 83% of mammals are only found within the boundaries of Australia (Rockström et al. 2009; Chapman 2009). The changes that take place on the Australian landscape and their native habitats due to the human activities experienced has exposed most of these unique species of animals and plants to an increasingly big risk. Going back into the last 200 year most of their plants and animals have become extinct (Dunlop & Brown 2008). However a variety of management and conservation measures have been established to protect them. Therefore the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 was a scientific advice that was given to Australia and implemented by the government and it stated that “a business-as-usual approach to biodiversity conservation under a changing climate will fall short of meeting the challenge”.

Background of the Topic

The strategy recognised the fact that there was need to transform the original thinking of Australians about biodiversity, its significance in the contemporary universe, the threats that were brought about by the changing climate, the strategies and tools/ schemes that were required to implement the conservation of biodiversity, the arrangement of various institutions that agreed with and supported this move, and finally the degree of investment needed to secure the biotic heritage of the continent in which Australia is found (Fallding 2004). The stressors that were to be looked at in this strategy apart from the changing climate included the clearing of vegetation, the pests and weeds that were introduced, overcommitted and highly personalized water resources, extensive use of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, transformed fire regimes, mining, urbanisation and over-harvesting of plants, therefore the loss of biodiversity in Australia is massive going by the international standards and needs to be checked, and this brought into effect the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (CSIRO & BoM 2007).

Thesis Assertion on the Conservation Strategy

The subject of interest is that, “The Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 suggests that, ‘Business as usual is no longer an option’ (p. 21). If so, what other options might exist to better protect Australia’s unique biodiversity?” This particular subject prompts an argument as to whether the conservation strategy is to be adopted or not, therefore this particular essay seeks to agree with the topic that indeed a “Business as usual approach” is detrimental to the Australian unique species and if not conserved then they are likely to become extinct. Other alternatives to this may exist but they are of limited help when it comes to correcting the challenge.

Counter Argument

Summary of the Counter Claims and their Supporting Information

There have been claims by the Australian Greens that the conservation strategy 2010-2030 is ambiguous in regard to the 5 year national targets stated. Similarly there is no mention in the document as to where finances would come from to support its strategies therefore it offers little hope for reversing the declining natural diversity in Australia (Siewert 2010). In addition, they claim that the strategy is inadequate and cannot solve the continuously growing challenge in the environment (O’Dwyer 2010). The timeframe that the strategy purports to operate in of 20 years further builds their claim because there is no vision recorded as to what is expected of biodiversity by end of 2030. Finally there is no situational analysis that will be done in the strategy and therefore it would be almost impossible to do an assessment of the potential impact of the five year target claims of the strategy, making the plan meaningless (O’Dwyer 2010).

Refutation of the Counterclaims and Evidence

These counterclaims are mainly based on arguments that certain details of the strategy are left out but already the Australian government has come up with detailed strategies that outline how the strategies will be implemented and how the activities will be met within the stipulated time frame and this is available in the PIA biodiversity strategy review (O’Dwyer 2010). As such, the claims that are identified as drawbacks to the plan are already resolved and the only option left for Australia is to implement the Australian Biodiversity Conservation 2010-2030 (Dunlop & Brown 2008).

Supporting Claims

Positional Arguments for the Asserted Thesis

The Australian Biodiversity Conservation report recognises that climate is already affecting their natural ecosystems that have natural significance and these include the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu, which will need priority attention (Steffan et
al. 2009). Therefore the claim by the Greens that the plan lacks a modality of assessment is false as the government of Australia already committed to track the progress through commissioning regular Climate Futures Reports as a way for evaluating how effective the strategy is (Dunlop & Brown 2008).

Similarly the strategy is adequate to solve the ongoing conservation of biodiversity because the government of Australia together with ACF supported the idea of listing of “Natural Systems of National Significance” as one of their best priorities for the adaption action in the 2010 Australian Government Position Paper with the title “Adapting to Climate Change” (Steffan et
al. 2009). This is an indication that the government already recognises that climate is affecting their natural ecosystems. This together with other varied plans indicated in the PIA review confirm that in deed the strategy is adequate enough to tackle the challenge (Fallding 2004).

Finally, the strategy suggests that some of the significant ecosystems that are under threat include, amongst others, the 16 internationally significant wetlands that are found in the Murray-Darling Basin that gives them about $2.1 billion dollars in benefits to most of their regional economies (Fallding 2004; ACF n.d). This aloe indicates that, apart from the governmental financial support, the income or profit made from the conserved resources is enough to support the strategy and thus finances is not a challenge that is worth mentioning amongst the reasons for shutting down the strategy (O’Dwyer 2010). Additionally because the strategy is an initiative of the government, and the reviews that were submitted by PIA to the 2009 strategy are government sponsored, there is reason enough to indicate that the government is facilitating the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030, therefore finances are available to sustain the process even if not mentioned in the document (CSIRO & BoM 2007).


It is therefore positive to argue that there is no alternative to the strategy and choosing to do business as usual in Australia may be detrimental to the survival of the Australian natural ecosystems. Therefore the government of Australia in strengthening their strategy should mainstream their actions to include both social and economic factors by giving them an equal footing and this suggests that biodiversity should be mainstreamed with other land use planning processes, they should establish, in addition to the policies that reduce carbon foot print, initiatives that include having local authority biodiversity strategy all round the country enhance effectiveness. Finally a clear budget of supporting the strategy and a well broken down time-line that directs the activities of the strategy should be made public so that critics of the plan get to understand and support the course of action. Thus mitigating the existing threats, maintaining well functioning ecosystems by targeting actions that conserve biodiversity and carbon storage in biodiversity marked points, building foundations that aid in understanding and responding to the changing climate and its effects on Australian environment, investing in the people of Australia together with their professionalism and knowledge to implement protection in regions and restoration of water, marine environments and land should make a large part of Australian government’s action plans that will mitigate the dwindling natural ecosystems or threats to biodiversity.


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Chapman, AD 2009, ‘Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World’, Report for the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, pp. 84.

Siewert, R 2010, ‘Greens disappointed by ‘inadequate’ biodiversity strategy: Environment, Biodiversity & Natural Heritage/Natural Resource Management, Retrieved on 22nd May, 2013 from http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/greens-disappointed inadequate-biodiversity-strategy