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Does Recovery Planning Benefit Threatened Species?

By Madeleine Bottrill

A new analysis suggests that recovery plans for threatened species need to be significantly improved if they are to make a difference.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Recovery planning is a key component of government-funded initiatives to address declining populations of threatened species. In the past decade over $17 million has been invested by the Australian government in developing more than 600 recovery plans for more than 850 species. The purpose of these plans is to collate quantitative data on threatened species with expert opinion to specify threats, management priorities and recovery criteria.

So what’s been achieved? Opinions are mixed. Critics point to the low numbers of threatened species that have been delisted – that is, cases where a species conservation status has improved – while advocates highlight that recovery planning has prevented extinction of species like the eastern barred bandicoot.

In order to throw a bit of light on the value of recovery plans, the federal Environment Department commissioned a group of researchers from the University of Queensland, including myself, to evaluate the effectiveness of single-species recovery planning. The evaluation compared the status of threatened species with recovery plans and those without recovery plans. It should be noted that more than half of threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) do not have plans.

At first glance this sounds straightforward. One group of endangered species has recovery...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Madeleine Bottrill is a researcher with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the University of Queensland.