Plan for zero extinctions requires end to human population growth
If the federal government is serious about its goal to prevent any new extinctions of Australian wildlife, it must understand that preservation of habitat is the key. According to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), that requires an end to human population growth.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announced today a zero extinctions target for the country’s plants and animals as part of a 10-year plan. It will focus on 110 species and protect an additional 50m hectares of land and sea area by 2027.
SPA national President Ms Jenny Goldie says the protection of extra land and sea areas is very welcome but further human encroachment on all natural ecosystems must end.
“It is the fragmentation and loss of habitat that causes other species to become threatened or even extinct,” says Ms Goldie. “There are a number of factors, not least climate change, but in Australia it is urban development and agricultural expansion that are largely responsible.
“Habitat must be protected in both quantity and quality. Species are not independent of one another; they interact within ecosystems. For example, introduced species can seriously affect indigenous species and management at the ecosystem level is necessary.”
Ms Goldie says the potential loss of the last koala habitat in the Sydney Basin from urban development is a salutary warning.
“You cannot keep expanding the human enterprise at the expense of other species.
“The government’s ‘zero extinctions’ plan will fail, just as its net ‘zero emissions’ plan must fail. Both are expected to work around government-mandated rapid population growth, lightly regulated land clearing and habitat destruction, and long term horizons for fossil fuel exploitation and export.”
Ms Goldie says that urban infill is often offered as an alternative to urban sprawl and the loss of natural habitat.
“It is a false solution because the human footprint extends ever outwards even when more and more people are squeezed into existing towns and cities.
“People need food, clothing and shelter and this requires agriculture, forestry and mining which all encroach on natural ecosystems.
“The only solution is an end to population growth and that requires low net overseas migration and maintaining below-replacement fertility levels,” says Ms Goldie.