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Australia commits at least 30% of its landmass to protecting endangered species

Australia commits at least 30% of its landmass to protecting endangered species
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SYDNEY, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Australia will set aside at least 30% of its landmass for conservation to protect plants and animals on the island continent famous for species found nowhere else in the world, Environment Minister Tanya has said Plibersek on Tuesday.

Australia has lost more mammalian species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world’s wealthiest countries, every five years environmental report card released by the government in July.

This report showed that the number of species added to the threatened species list or placed in a higher risk category increased by an average of 8% in 2016 compared to the previous report.

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“The need for action to protect our plants, animals and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater,” Plibersek said in a statement.

By prioritizing 110 species and 20 locations, Plibersek said, the areas managed for protection would increase by 50 million hectares. The 10-year plan will be reviewed in 2027.

The recently elected Labor government has pledged A$224.5 million (US$146 million) to help protect Australia’s threatened native plants and animals.

A wallaby sits among burned trees in Kosciuszko National Park in Providence Portal, New South Wales, Australia January 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy/File Photo

Australia, the sixth largest country in the world by land area, is home to unique animals like koalas and platypuses, although their numbers have declined due to extreme weather events and human encroachment on their habitats.

Koalas along much of the east coast were listed as vulnerable in February after wildlife experts estimated Australia had lost about 30% of its koalas in the past four years.

Australia has been hit by frequent extreme weather events lately, including the devastating 2019 and 2020 bushfires in the east that killed 33 people and billions of animals and burned an area almost half the size of Germany.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Australia welcomed the government’s conservation efforts but urged the authorities to go further and invest in time-bound recovery plans for all threatened species.

“Australia has more than 1,900 listed threatened species. This plan selects 110 winners. It’s unclear how he will help our other ‘non-priority’ threatened species,” said Rachel Lowry, Chief Conservation Officer of WWF-Australia.

($1 = 1.5352 Australian Dollars)

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Reporting by Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose; Edited by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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