this was in the news yesterday. It actually seems to make sense to me, rather
than an admission of defeat.
Full text below
Garrett concedes: extinction inevitable
Tom Arup, Environment Correspondent
August 18, 2009
THE Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has warned that money to save
endangered wildlife is limited and some species may have to be abandoned when
funding decisions are made.
In one of the strongest speeches of his ministerial career he told an
international conference of ecologists in Brisbane that the Government will
shift its focus to protecting ''ecosystems'', rather than putting money into
individual projects for endangered animals.
Mr Garrett's speech follows a report by the Department of Climate Change that
found global warming would severely threaten many native species.
Mr Garrett said the current system of funding on an animal-by-animal basis was
the equivalent of paramedics waiting at the bottom of a hill performing
''triage'' on those who fall down.
''Australia has 1750 species now on the threatened list,'' he said. ''And while
. we will have to act in an urgent way from time to time to prevent their
extinction, it won't always be effective to keep tackling them one by one.''
Mr Garrett has already signalled his intentions with substantial budget
injections to the national reserves system and new marine conservation zones.
At present Australia registers species on endangered lists based on the advice
of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee. The minister then decides
whether he will fund a ''recovery program'' for that species based on its
chance of success.
Mr Garrett discussed his recent decision to fund a recovery program for an
endangered bat on Christmas Island and whether he could afford to spend the
money given the animal's low chance of recovery.
He asked the scientists to help policy makers and the community ''understand
what is required in terms of public policy, resources and priorities''. He said
his new approach was one of a ''clear-sighted pragmatist''.
Mr Garrett also pre-empted claims of future budget constraints on environmental
spending by saying the financial crisis was the best time to address such
issues because he was ''sufficiently aware that our wellbeing is inextricably
linked to the health of our natural ecosystems''.
Averil Bones, policy director for the WWF, said moving to a broader protection
program would require more money in next year's budget. She said Australia
could not protect only existing ecosystems as most were under severe threat,
and the environment had to be restored through revegetation programs and
Phil Gibbons, a senior fellow at the ANU's Fenner School of Environment and
Society, said focusing on ecosystems was the most cost-effective approach to
saving animals. But he said Mr Garrett had recently spent large amounts on
programs for politically popular animals, including $10 million to help save
the Tasmanian devil.
Mr Gibbons added that Mr Garrett and the Rudd Government had not yet been
prepared to have a debate about ''the links between economic growth and the
damage we are doing to our natural ecosystems''.
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