Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on Amendments to the List of Key Threatening Processes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
26 February 2013
- Listing advice - Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity (PDF - 548 KB) | (Word - 943 KB)
- Threat abatement guidelines - Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity (PDF - 82 KB) | (Word - 48 KB)
The term ‘novel biota’ refers to organisms that are new to an ecosystem whether by natural or human introduction. The purpose of this key threatening process (KTP) is to recognise the threat that all novel biota pose to the Australian environment and to highlight the vast array of different novel biota and the threats they pose. Novel biota, from introduced vertebrate species and deadly pathogens to smothering weeds both on land and in the sea, all have varying impacts on native ecosystems, but ultimately they all threaten the continued survival of the native species and ecological communities upon which they impact.
Since the arrival of the first non-Indigenous people to Australia, introduced novel biota have posed an ongoing threat to Australia’s unique environment and biodiversity. Invasive species are considered by biologists to have the second most destructive impact on native species and ecological communities after habitat destruction.
This KTP ‘Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity’, includes six major groups of novel biota that are impacting on biodiversity, as detailed below.
Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity, including:
- Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by vertebrate pests.
- Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by invertebrate pests.
- Competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by terrestrial weeds.
- Competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by aquatic weeds and algae.
- Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by marine pests.
- Mortality, habitat loss and degradation caused by pathogens.
This overarching KTP includes novel biota which are currently not present in Australia but that may be introduced in the future, and species already in Australia that currently are not invasive but have the potential to become so. Any current or future novel biota that fit into the six broad categories outlined in the description above are considered to be included.
There are currently 21 KTPs listed under the EPBC Act. Fourteen of these describe decline in native species and/or ecological communities caused by one or more invasive taxa including cats, foxes, feral pigs, gamba grass and fire ants. The novel biota key threatening process encompasses those invasive taxa which are separately listed as KTPs, as well as other novel biota that are already established in Australia and species with the potential to become invasive in the future.
The Minister's Reasons for Threat Abatement Plan decision.
Date of decision - 23/1/2013:
The detrimental impact that invasive novel biota are having across Australia through predation, grazing and competition, disease, ecosystem alteration and genetic effects is well documented.
Following independent advice and public consultation, it is considered that a threat abatement plan would not be the most feasible, effective or efficient mechanism to manage such a broad threatening process. In addition to existing management measures that are in place at a national scale, state and territory governments have management measures in place for plant and animal weeds and pests that contribute to the management of threats arising from novel biota.
Overarching threat abatement guidelines have been developed and these will interact with existing management measures.
The decision not to have a threat abatement plan for 'Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity' can be reviewed by the Minister at any time within five years of the listing of this key threatening process. Following a review, a threat abatement plan(s) could be implemented if it is considered to be a feasible, efficient and effective way to abate the threat at that time.