With a predicted dryer than average summer ahead, the ACT Government is applying lessons learnt from the 2020 bushfires to protect the Canberra environment from devastating decline.
Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said that she is focusing her efforts on environmental protection and conservation strategies to respond to a difficult summer ahead.
“A bushfire emergency is an environmental emergency,” Minister Vassarotti said.
“The impacts of heat, drought and bushfires have the potential to wreak havoc on the ACT’s environment and our biodiversity.
“The fight for biodiversity conservation is about more than just science – it’s about whether our crops are pollinated. It’s about whether we have food on the table.
“Global boiling continues to place significant pressure on the ACT’s natural resources including threatened plants and animals.
“With heatwaves lasting longer and extreme weather events increasing in severity and frequency we need to rethink our approach to conservation and how to support our native species.
“Our team of environmental experts have learnt a lot from the devastating drought conditions during the Black Summer Bushfires.
“One risk of a hot and dry summer ahead, is that the ACT’s endangered native plants and animals will die out and creep further towards extinction, allowing invasive species to establish a foothold.
“The good news is, the funding of $5.8 million that we secured in the ACT Budget 2023-24 is already allowing the government to build climate resilience for a variety of species and ecological communities.
“We are already investigating how we can even better support endangered animals like the Koala through targeted environmental support. That’s why earlier this year we announced our plan to reintroduce Koalas to the ACT for the first time in over two decades.
“Following the mass destruction of habitat across Australia and with no known populations of wild koalas left in the ACT, the draft Native Species Conservation Plan for the Koala is a crucial step in investigating supporting the species.
“Experts in our environment team are also investigating how a heating climate will interfere with the growth of seeds and plants right in our very own backyards – and exactly how this can be mitigated.
“Made possible due to our seed bank in Namadgi National Park, these studies will help us learn how biodiversity could be shifted in a changing climate, what will be effective in cultivating species, and which weeds and invasive species will need our focus.
“Unfortunately, there’s no way we will be able to combat bushfires long term if the Federal Government continues to open coal mines in a climate crisis.
“The ACT is one small jurisdiction in a world full of climate polluters. While we will always be guided by the ethos of ‘think global, act local’, it’s going to take a commitment from the Federal Government to end new coal and gas for Australia to make any real contribution towards mitigating environmental destruction.
For more information on conservation management in the ACT, visit the ACT Environment website.
Learn more about the draft Gula (Koala) Native Species Conservation Plan on the ACT’s YourSay Conversations website.