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State accused of failing its native species as endangered list grows

Climate change is expected to further increase the number of threatened species because warming is likely to be faster than many species’ capacity for adaptation.

The law that dictates how threatened species are listed in Victoria, called the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, was reformed in 2019.

Very little is known about the elusive masked owl.

Very little is known about the elusive masked owl.Credit:Ray Kennedy

One of the key changes was to introduce a consistent national approach to assessing and categorising threatened species. The law changes also required the government to create an action statement for threatened species “within a reasonable time”.

Ellen Sandell, deputy leader of the Victorian Greens, described the new 2000-long threatened species list as a “wake-up call” for the state government.

“No doubt the department will say it’s all about recategorisation, but it can’t be written off as easily as this,” she said.

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“Our threatened species are going backwards, and the Victorian government is not putting nearly enough funding or resources into protecting them.”

Even when action statements are completed they are still often not sufficiently priced, resourced or targeted to be effective, said Bruce Lindsay, a senior lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia.

“They simply haven’t got a plan in place to reverse that problem for a vast majority of those species,” he said. “They have been sitting on their hands forever and a day.”

In a statement, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the number of threatened species in Victoria had not increased, but rather threatened species lists had been consolidated.

“A consolidated list removes uncertainty and will help managers manage threats and prioritise actions to protect our most vulnerable species,” she said.

The inquiry has its final day of hearing on Thursday.

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