Conserving birds - Vict. legislation

Subject: Conserving birds - Vict. legislation
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2003 10:28:02 +1000
The following information is in reference to the Victorian conservation
legislation, specifically the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.  As this is
part of my worjk area I am providing the information as it has become
apparent that there is some misunderstanding on how the Act works in
addressing conservation of flora and fauna in this state.

Firstly, it is important to remember that the Act only works in Victoria.
The state government has far less control over what it can do for
threatened species which also in other states.

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) program has a wide gamut in terms of
assessing and recognising which taxa, ecological communities and
potentially threatening processes are addressed in Victoria.  With taxa
such as the pelagic seabirds, international waders and species on the edge
of their range in Victoria (eg. Black Bittern) this conservation attention
may just be to have a short Action Statement (= 'Mgt. Plan') based on the
relevant EPBC Act Recovery Plan (eg. Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels) or one
based on what Victorian can do to address an item in its limited Victorian
range (eg. wetland conservation in far East Gippsland for the Black

To not at least identify a taxon/community at risk because some people
believe Victoria cannnot do anything for its conservation is not a choice
we have.  The FFG process is entirely run by publicly-generated nominations
of taxa etc as threatened.  The Minister's (independent) advisory committee
(the Scientific Advisory Committee) is obliged under the FFG Act to
formally respond to nominations and then advise the Minister if the item
should be added to the list of threatened taxa.  This is excatly what has
happened with the Grey-tailed Tattler (which is also recognised by
Victorian ornithologists as being 'Endangered').  One of the features of
the FFG Act is that it allows anyone (public or otherwise) to make a
nomination of any taxon/community/threateningprocess they think is
threatened/an issue for Victorian flora and/or fauna.  Nominators can be
confident their nomination will be seriously and carefully assessed and in
most cases will eventually be listed under the Act.

With respect to management of these taxa etc by the government, Victoria
may not directly expend many resources on a species.  For the Grey-tailed
Tattler it is more likely to address the general threat of habitat loss
and, with Parks Victoria (who manage the parks and reserves system), manage
Ramsar Wetlands, where the species spends much of its time while in
Victorian waters.  For the Grey-tailed Tattler, this would most likely be
to conserve key habitat in Western Port Bay, a Ramsar site.

Listing under any state conservation legislation
- flags an item requiring conservation attention for other authorities
(both within Victoria and interstate, especially the Commonwealth) who may
be able to do something about a species conservation.
- identifies a species in the public arena as threatened
- requires the government to formally advise the public what it will do to
conserve a taxon (which may not be much depending on the species),
community etc and involve Victorians (and others) in the process
(production of Action Statements).

The FFG Act involves specific listing criteria which nominations must meet
before they can be recommended for addition to the Act.  The criteria are
available from me and can be viewed at the Victorian legislation web site
as follows:

Some observers may say that Victoria can do nothing to address the
conservation of particular rare and/or threatened fauna (eg. international
wading birds) but this does not detract from the process I have outlined
above.  At least the threatened taxa/communities are being identified and
some form of conservation work (minor or major) is being done.

FFG Action Statements can be viewed at the following Department of
Sustainability & Environment (DSE) web site

Note that there are almost 200 Action Statements now finalised but some of
these are not published yet on the DSE web site.  I can provide an index of
currently available Action Statements to interested inquiries.

I hope this clearly explains how the FFG program works in Victoria.

Feel free to contact me directly for any further queries or for provision
of information on listed species etc.


Martin O'Brien
Executive Scientific Officer, Scientific Advisory Committee
Department of Sustainability and Environment
4/250 Victoria Pde. (PO Box 500), East Melbourne  3002

Tel: 9412 4567  Fax: 9412 4586
(prefixes: Interstate 03 International 613)

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