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A dangerous idea in action: the hegemony of endangered species legislation and how it hinders biodiversity conservation

Lunney, D. (2017) A dangerous idea in action: the hegemony of endangered species legislation and how it hinders biodiversity conservation. Australian Zoologist, 38 (3). pp. 289-307.

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The task I am promoting in this paper is to expand the conservation and management focus from just threatened vertebrate species to include all non-threatened vertebrates. I reason that it is easily possible to do so because it lies within our long-standing legal and public interest in our native birds and mammals, and more recently, reptiles and frogs. The shortfall in achieving the aspiration to conserve biodiversity is evident by examining both the Commonwealth and NSW governments' official State of the Environment reports. The rise of threatened species in the conservation agenda, called 'endangered species' in NSW until 1995, is examined from the time the legal interpretation of endangered species became important in 1991with a decision by Justice Paul Stein of the NSW Land and Environment Court. Endangered species had captured both the legal and popular imagination, leading to the passage of the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1991 (NSW). In 1992, 26% of the birds, mammals, frogs and reptiles of NSW became listed as endangered species. The non-threatened species became the neglected 74% of the vertebrate fauna of NSW. In short, this emphasis hinders the conservation of biodiversity in its broadest sense. I argue here that expanding beyond threatened species recovery to studying, managing and conserving all of our native vertebrate fauna is a major step forward in achieving our aim of conserving biodiversity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
Copyright: © 2017 Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
United Nations SDGs: Goal 15: Life on Land
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