Scores of beloved Australian wildlife could be lost forever after massive land cleanups and wildfires destroyed their habitats and killed millions of animals, experts warned.
Habitat loss from urban development, agriculture and land reclamation since 2000 has been identified as a primary reason behind animal extinction and loss of biodiversity in Australia.
The Black Summer Fires from 2019 to 2020 also contributed significantly, after destroying 12 million acres of land in the eastern states.
The fires have decimated the habitats of 832 creatures and killed about a billion animals, including about 10,000 koalas.
The fires, coupled with declining habitats due to land reclamation, have led scientists to require 49 different species of native animals to be added to Australia’s endangered species list.
Habitat loss from urban development, agriculture and land clearance has been identified as a primary reason for animal extinction and loss of biodiversity in Australia since 2000 (photo: Koalas take refuge in a bulldozed part of Kin Kin in QLD on March 22, 2019 )
The 2019 to 2020 Black Summer Fires also contributed significantly after destroying 12 million acres of land (Photo: Fires in Bilpin, NSW on December 19, 2019)
Between 2000 and 2017, up to eight million hectares of land with the habitats of endangered species were cleared, experts predict.
Pouchtails were once common across the country, but they are extinct in specific areas, even though their populations are relatively healthy.
The population of the gray-headed flying fox has also declined sharply.
But the destruction of koala habitats has been the most important in recent years.
Koala habitats cleared for land projects in NSW increased by about 32 and by seven percent in Queensland.
As a result, the koala population in NSW has decreased by 61 percent, while the koala population in Queensland has halved.
Koalas’ habitats have been destroyed so quickly that the beloved animal was declared a vulnerable creature in 2012.
Veterinarians and volunteers treat a koala at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide (photo: January 12, 2020)
The fires combined with the declining habitats due to land reclamation resulted in scientists demanding 49 different native species be added to Australia’s endangered species list (photo: an injured koala on Kangaroo Island after a fire on January 7)
A 2019 study by Conservation Science and Practice found that 93 percent of land reclamation was not assessed under applicable law, although the parties involved were empowered to do so.
“No one is legally obliged to finance or implement these plans or advices, nor to account for their progress – which is a major problem,” said Professor Sarah Legge of Australian National University The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Commonwealth Auditor-General filed a report in June finding that the Environment Department has not protected endangered species.
The report noted that 79 percent of land clearance approvals were not compliant and contained obvious errors.
It said that the approval terms designed to control a project’s environmental damage are “not rigorously assessed, do not meet procedural guidelines, and contain administrative or administrative errors.”
A dead koala outside Ipswich after more than a million acres of shrub, forest and trees has been grubbed up in Queensland since 2013 (pictured in 2017)
Crews monitor fires and start burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in eastern Gipplsland (photo: January 2, 2020)
Naturalists estimate that at least 8,000 koalas died in the wildfires, nearly a third of the total population in New South Wales, after fires destroyed millions of acres after a long drought season.
It is estimated that nearly half a billion animals died during the fire.
Scientists feared that the destruction of breeding grounds and forests could have long-term consequences for the population of many bird species.
Ecologists said the animals may disappear completely from some regions and have been reclassified as an endangered species.
Macquarie University climate scientist and biologist Professor Lesley Hughes said climate change is a “threat multiplier” for endangered species.
“As temperatures continue to rise and we get more heat waves, droughts and wildfires, endangered species will end up in an even worse place than we do now.”
THE 49 ANIMALS RECOMMENDED FOR NOTIFICATION AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
Blue Mountains tree frog
Davies’ tree frog
Leaf-tailed gecko from New England
Alpine meadow skink
Sheink oak skink
Southern leaf green tree frog
Large billed scrubwren
Monarch with a black face
The New England tree frog
Jervis Bay tree frog
Mustard belly snake
Rainforest cool skink
Barrington Tops frog
Great sooty owl
Eastern slit skink
Green electric frog
Light yellow robin
Long nose bandicoot
Granite leaf-tailed gecko
Revealed tree frog
Paradise gun bird
Orange tail shadow kink
Red-brown tree creeper
Eastern broad-nosed bat