Suggestions that Australia can advance the conservation of native fauna by encouraging people to keep native animals as pets and have pastoralists replace sheep and cattle with kangaroos are not revolutionary. As with the preoccupation of environmentalists with endangered species, national parks and wilderness, these are limited options which will achieve little in the way of conserving Australia's flora and fauna. It is far more important to end land clearing and habitat fragmentation in terrestrial environments and to cease building dams, diverting rivers and trawling for fish in aquatic environments. Even these suggestions are far from revolutionary. A real revolution in nature conservation requires a change in national priorities from ones of increasing economic growth, resource consumption and population growth to becoming an ecologically sustainable society. Achieving ecological sustainability means that Australia needs to adopt population policies which will ultimately reduce the size of the population by half. Population reduction needs to be accompanied by reductions in energy and resource consumption. Landcare needs to return a minimum of 30% of existing cleared land to native vegetation with an additional 20 to 40% placed under deeprooted perennials with a primary objective of providing other species with the resources they require to achieve their evolutionary potential. Only by a revolution of this magnitude can Australians meet their responsibilities to the other species with which we share the continent and begin to meet the requirements of ecological sustainability. Only by caring for other organisms can Australians say they are worthy of sharing Australia with other species. Eating jump steak and keeping native animals as pets are steps in that direction, but only small ones.
Other RZS NSW Publications
A Zoological Revolution: Using native fauna to assist in its own survival
Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
Data & Figures
Chisholm, A. and Moran, A. 1993 The Price of Preservation. Tasman Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
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