Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Governments in Australia and elsewhere in the world use legislation to conserve species and other elements of biodiversity that are threatened by human activities. This forum examined to what extent relying on the legislative process is justified and, in particular, considered the effectiveness of legislation in achieving broad conservation goals. A synthesis of the papers presented at the one day forum run by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW is presented in this final paper. These papers display considerable insight into how threatened species legislation works, from the decision to list a species, to the consequences of listing for government departments, local councils, community groups and consultants. While the papers concentrated on the NSW Acts, they were compared with Commonwealth and other States' legislation as well as overseas examples. For many contributors to this forum, threatened species legislation is deficient in that it focuses on conspicuous, iconic and well-known taxa, and does little to conserve small, cryptic organisms, common but declining taxa, or ecological processes. In addition, threatened entities must often be identified using imprecise criteria that can be interpreted differently, and uncertain or incomplete information, while recovery planning for ever-expanding lists of threatened taxa is difficult and expensive. Scarce resources could be made to go further by allocating them to priority taxa, but criteria for ranking priorities are themselves highly contentious. Given these difficulties, an efficient way forward would be to identify common threats that afflict suites of populations, species and ecological communities and to target these for management. This is possible, but has been given insufficient priority under some existing legislation such as the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Other priorities for achieving broad conservation goals are the familiar yet critical requirements for sustaining research, education and funding, but added to these is the need for more public debate, engagement of the whole community, and informed inspiration to show that solutions are possible. We conclude that threatened species legislation is important, but just one act in the biodiversity play.

(Note: references that appear in the body of the text with a 2004 date that do not appear below refer to other chapters in this book, and can be found listed in the contents page.)
Archer, M. 2002. Confronting crises in conservation: a talk on the wild side. Pp. 12-52 in A Zoological Revolution: Using Native Fauna to Assist in its own Survival, edited by D. Lunney and C. Dickman. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, and Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Archer, M. and Beale, B. 2004 Going Native: Living in the Australian Environment. Hodder Headline, Sydney.
Banks, P. B. 2004. Population viability analysis in urban wildlife management: modelling management options for Sydney's quarantined bandicoots. Pp. 70-77 in Urban Wildlife: More than meets the Eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Bartel, R. L. 2003. Compliance and complicity: an assessment of the success of land clearance legislation in New South Wales. Environmental and Planning Law Journal 20: 116-141.
Beattie, A. and Ehrlich, P. R. 2001 Wild Solutions: How Biodiversity is Money in the Bank. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
Bennett, A., Backhouse, G. and Clark, T. (eds). 1995 People and Nature Conservation: Perspectives on Private Land Use and Endangered Species Recovery. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Brook, A., Zint, M. and de Young, R. 2003. Landowners’ responses to an Endangered Species Act listing and implications for encouraging conservation. Conservation Biology 17: 1638-1649.
Burgess, B. B. 2001 Fate of the Wild: the Endangered Species Act and the Future of Biodiversity. University of Georgia Press, Athens, USA.
Carroll, R., Augspurger, C., Dobson, A., Franklin, J., Orians, G., Reid, W., Tracy, R., Wilcove, D. and Wilson, J. 1996. Strengthening the use of science in achieving the goals of the Endangered Species Act: an assessment by the Ecological Society of America. Ecological Applications 6: 1-11.
Caughley, G. 1994. Directions in conservation biology. Journal of Animal Ecology 63: 215-244.
Caughley, G. and Gunn, A. 1996 Conservation Biology in Theory and Practice. Blackwell Science, Oxford.
Clark, S. A. 2004. Native snails in an urban environment - conservation from the ground up. Pp. 78-81 in Urban Wildlife: More than meets the Eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Craig, J. L., Mitchell, N. and Saunders, D. A. (eds). 2000 Nature Conservation 5: Conservation in Production Environments: Managing the Matrix. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.
Dexter, E. M. and Kitching, R. L. 1991 Nomination for the Register of the National Estate. Unpublished report, Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra.
Diamond, J. M. 1987. Extant unless proven extinct? Or, extinct unless proven extant? Conservation Biology 1: 77-79.
Dickman, C. R. 1993. The biology and management of native rodents of the arid zone in New South Wales. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Species Management Report No. 12: 1-149.
Dickman, C. R. 1996. Incorporating science into recovery planning for threatened species. Pp. 63-73 in Back from the Brink: Refining the Threatened Species Recovery Process, edited by S. Stephens and S. Maxwell. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.
Dickman, C. R. and Lunney, D. (eds) 2001 A Symposium on the Dingo, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Dickman, C. R., Pimm, S. L. and Cardillo, M. In press. Extinction risk, biodiversity loss, and does it matter? In Hot Topics in Conservation Biology, edited by D. W. Macdonald. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Dickman, C. R. and Steeves, T. E. 2004. Use of habitat by mammals in eastern Australian forests: are common species important in species management? Pp. 761-73 in Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, second edition, edited by D. Lunney. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Eby, P. and Lunney, D. (eds). 2002 Managing the Grey-headed Flying-fox as a Threatened Species in New South Wales. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
EPA. 2003 New South Wales State of the Environment 2003. Department of Environment and Conservation, Sydney, NSW.
Foran, B. and Poldy, F. 2002 Future Dilemmas: Options to 2050 for Australia's Population, Technology, Resources and Environment. Available as a 61-page summary, ‘ Dilemmas Distilled’, or as the full 337-page report (
Garnett, S. T., Crowley, G. M. and Balmford, A. 2003a. The costs and effectiveness of funding the conservation of Australian threatened birds. BioScience 53: 658-665.
Garnett, S. T., Crowley, G. M. and Stattersfield, A. J. 2003b. Changes in the conservation status of Australian birds resulting from differences in taxonomy, knowledge and the definitions of threat. Biological Conservation 113: 269-276.
Green, R. E. 2002. Diagnosing causes of population declines and selecting remedial actions. Pp. 139-156 in Conserving Bird Biodiversity, edited by K. Norris and D. J. Pain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Haber, W. 1992. On transfer of scientific information into political action; experiences from the German Federal Council of Environmental Advisors. INTECOL Bulletin 20: 3-13.
Hobbs, R. J. 1994. Effects of landscape fragmentation on ecosystem processes in the Western Australian wheatbelt. Biological Conservation 64: 193-201.
Hutchinson, G. E. 1965 The Ecological Theatre and the Evolutionary Play. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
IUCN. 1996 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
IUCN. 2001 IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.
IUCN. 2003 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.
Johnston, B. and Dollary, C. 1998. Survey Report - Grevillea kennedyana. Unpublished report to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville, NSW.
Kinnear, J. E., Sumner, N. R. and Onus, M. L. 2002. The red fox in Australia - an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation 108: 335-359.
Lamoreux, J., Akçakaya, H. R., Bennun, L., Collar, N. J., Boitani, L., Brackett, D., Bräutigam, A., Brooks, T. M., da Fonseca, G. A. B., Mittermeier, R. A., Rylands, A. B., Gärdenfors, U., Hilton-Taylor, C., Mace, G., Stein, B. A. and Stuart, S. 2003. Value of the IUCN Red List. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 214-215.
Limpus, C. J. and Watts, C. H. S. 1983 Melomys rubicola, an endangered murid rodent endemic to the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 6: 77-79.
Lindenmayer, D. B. and Franklin, J. F. (eds). 2002 Conserving Forest Biodiversity: a comprehensive, multiscaled approach. Island Press, Washington, D. C., USA.
Lindenmayer, D. B., Nix, H. A., McMahon, J. P., Hutchinson, M. F. and Tanton, M. T. 1991. The conservation of Leadbeater's possum, Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (McCoy): a case study of the use of bioclimatic modelling. Journal of Biogeography 18: 371-383.
Lunney, D. and Dickman, C. (eds). 2002 A Zoological Revolution: Using Native Fauna to Assist in its own Survival. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, and Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Lunney, D., Dickman, C. and Burgin, S. (eds). 2002 A Clash of Paradigms: Community and Research-based Conservation. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Lunney, D., Matthews, A., Stein, J. A. and Lunney, H. W. M. 2003. Australian bat research: the limitations of The Action Plan for Australian Bats in determining the direction of research. Pacific Conservation Biology 8: 255-260.
New, T. R. 1997 Butterfly Conservation, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Norris, K. 2004. Managing threatened species: the ecological toolbox, evolutionary theory and declining-population paradigm. Journal of Applied Ecology 41: 413-426.
NPWS. 2000. Painted Burrowing Frog ( Neobatrachus pictus) Recovery Plan. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville, NSW.
NPWS. 2002. Recovery Plan for the Coxen's Fig-parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni (Gould). NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville, NSW.
Possingham, H. P., Andelman, S. J., Burgman, M. A., Medellin, R. A., Master, L. L. and Keith, D. A. 2002. Limits to the use of threatened species lists. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17: 503-507.
Recher, H. F. 1999. The state of Australia's avifauna: a personal opinion and prediction for the new millennium. Australian Zoologist 31: 11-27.
Redford, K. and Sanjayan, M. A. 2003. Retiring Cassandra. Conservation Biology 17: 1473-1474.
Reeves, G. W. 1999 Midterm Review of the Natural Heritage Trust: Bushcare Program. CSIRO Centre for International Economics, Canberra.
Restani, M. and Marzluff, J. M. 2002. Funding extinction: biological needs and political realities in the allocation of resources to endangered species recovery. BioScience 52: 169-177.
Roemer, G. W. and Wayne, R. K. 2003. Conservation in conflict: the tale of two endangered species. Conservation Biology 17: 1251-1260.
Rohlf, D. J. 1991. Six biological reasons why the Endangered Species Act doesn't work - and what to do about it. Conservation Biology 5: 273-282.
Sands, D. P. A. 1999. Conservation status of Lepidoptera: assessment, threatening processes and recovery actions. Pp. 382-387 in The Other 99%: the Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates, edited by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Sands, D. P. A., Scott, S. E. and Moffatt, R. 1997. The threatened Richmond birdwing butterfly ( Ornithoptera richmondia (Gray)): a community conservation project. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 56: 449-453.
Silver, S. 2003. Attacking the Act. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1: 59.
Soulé, M. E., Estes, J. A., Berger, J. and del Rio, C. M. 2003. Ecological effectiveness: conservation goals for interactive species. Conservation Biology 17: 1238-1250.
Strahan, R. 1986. Why save endangered species and which ones do we save? Pp. 2-17 in Endangered Species: Social, Scientific, Economic and Legal Aspects in Australia and the South Pacific, edited by S. Burgin. Total Environment Centre, Sydney.
Strahan, R. (ed.). 1995 The Mammals of Australia. Reed, Chatswood, NSW.
Tear, T. H., Scott, J. M., Hayward, P. H. and Griffith, B. 1995. Recovery plans and the Endangered Species Act: are criticisms supported by data? Conservation Biology 9: 182-195.
Thomas, J. W. and Salwasser, H. 1989. Bringing conservation biology into a position of influence in natural resource management. Conservation Biology 3: 123-127.
Tsamenyi, M., Rose, G. and Castle, A. 2003 International marine conservation law and its implementation in Australia. Pp. 1-17 in Conserving Marine Environments. Out of sight, out of mind, edited by P. Hutchings and D. Lunney. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Walker, B. H. 1992. Biological diversity and ecological redundancy. Conservation Biology 6: 18-23.
Walker, B. H. 1995. Conserving biological diversity through ecosystem resilience. Conservation Biology 9: 747-752.
Wilcove, D. S. and Chen, L. Y. 1998. Management costs for endangered species. Conservation Biology 12: 1405-1407.
Williams, J., Read, C., Norton, A., Dovers, S., Burgman, M., Proctor, W. and Anderson, H. 2001 Biodiversity, Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report). CSIRO publishing on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra, Australia.
Williams, S. E., Bolitho, E. E. and Fox, S. 2003. Climatic change in Australian tropical rainforests: an impending environmental catastrophe. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 270:1887-92.
Wilson, G. R. 1986. Endangered species - an overview. Pp 18-25 in Endangered Species: Social, Scientific, Economic and Legal Aspects in Australia and the South Pacific, edited by S. Burgin. Total Environment Centre, Sydney.
Winter, J. W. 2004. Forest mammals of northern Queensland: is their conservation status improving? Pp. 435-451 in Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna (second edition), edited by D. Lunney. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal