Scientists are describing what's happening around us as the ‘sixth great species extinction'. Unlike previous mass‑extinctions, this one is predominantly of our making.
The Red List (of the world's endangered species) produced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) shows Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction of any developed country.
Our geographic isolation has meant that over many millennia native flora and fauna have evolved to be uniquely adapted to Australia's landscapes.
Over 90% of our plant species, 87% of our mammals and 45% of birds are endemic to the country.
They've adapted to a diverse range of complex habitats.
When in a healthy condition Australian ecosystems are often highly resilient and able to recover from fire, droughts, floods and extreme weather. But over the past 200 years human activities have seen more than 75% of our native vegetation destroyed or degraded.
Our most urgent challenge is to respond before it's too late. It falls to each of us to ensure the natural heritage of our country is secured and protected in our generation.
Global urgency required
The United Nations General Assembly declared the years 2011 to 2020 the Decade on Biodiversity, with a goal to significantly reduce biodiversity loss.
It created a set of 20 time-bound, measurable goals aimed at halting the loss of biodiversity at a global level by the middle of the 21st century. These are known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
In Australia, these Aichi Targets translate into 10 very specific goals, which include setting aside an additional 60 million hectares of native habitat for biodiversity conservation.
Our Strategic Plan reflects this urgency with the ambitious goal of doubling the land we have secured by direct acquisition and partnerships from 3 to 6 million hectares to complement the government-managed National Reserve system.