When I first began in this role in early 2018, the Australian Government’s inaugural five year Threatened Species Strategy was almost exactly at its halfway point.
It has been a great privilege to have had carriage of the concluding half of this ambitious Strategy, to have had a hand in supporting Australia’s most threatened species and to personally witness the positive impact of so many great projects that are working hard to recover threatened species.
Five years after the Strategy commenced, it’s easy to forget how far we have come since those initial days of this new approach of focussed national attention on priority action areas for threatened species. Launching outcomes-based national targets for threatened species recovery was a bold and untried course in 2015, and it’s very satisfying to see the progress made against these targets by mid-2020.
Many of the year five targets were deliberately very ambitious. They were intended to stretch us to do more than had been attempted before, therefore those we have met represent genuinely impressive achievements.
The level of ambition across all targets generated serious action in areas where national attention was critical, such as checking the escalating impact of feral cats on our native wildlife. This means that even where some targets were not fully met, the progress made towards them has led to real improvement in the prospects of many threatened species. Collectively, Australia’s threatened species management community has much to be proud of in its pursuit of these targets and I’m thrilled to report on some of these efforts in the following pages. This Year Five Report does not shy away from the fact that there is much more work to do to ensure our native plants and animals thrive into the future, and this will require an ongoing collective effort.
Partnerships with so many great individuals and organisations in the threatened species research and management community has been a real highlight for me as the Threatened Species Commissioner. I’d like to extend my personal thanks to all of you who look after threatened species, who are on the ground doing the hard yards of caring, protecting and supporting, as well as those who have helped with monitoring and reporting on recovery progress. There are many challenges in recovering species that face multiple threats, and I think we do this best when we do it collaboratively.
As this first Threatened Species Strategy concludes, I’m keen to retain the spirit of adventure and optimism that characterised its unfolding and implementation as we look ahead to the future. The next Threatened Species Strategy will be in place from 2021-31 and provides an excellent opportunity to refine our approaches and implement lessons learned over the last five years. There are areas of focus that we will continue with, to consolidate conservation gains already made or to sharpen our focus on areas where we have fallen short. Recognising the significant challenges facing Australia’s threatened species, there will also be new focus areas to expand the new Strategy’s reach.
Just as previous reports have done, this Year Five Report provides an annual update on activities and highlights from the July 2019 – June 2020 period. And, as the Strategy’s fifth and final report, it also provides reflections on the Threatened Species Strategy as a whole.
I’m delighted that the first Strategy has delivered some great outcomes for Australia’s threatened species, and I look forward to sharing some of those successes in this final report.
Dr Sally Box
Threatened Species Commissioner