Australian government adviser urges threatened species overhaul after bushfires

Exclusive: Helene Marsh backs calls for the creation of national scientific monitoring system to help protect wildlife


With fires still burning, scientists warn it is too early to have a clear picture of the devastation, but preliminary government data suggests more than 100 threatened animal and plant species have lost at least half their habitat.


A senior adviser to the federal government on threatened species has backed calls for the creation of a national scientific monitoring system after the bushfire crisis to help fix Australia’s “very uneven” record in protecting endangered wildlife.


Helene Marsh, chair of the national threatened species scientific committee and an emeritus professor of environmental science at James Cook University, said the scale of the ecological tragedy had made Australians more aware of the risks facing the country’s unique animals and plants and provided an opportunity to improve conservation.


With fires still burning, scientists warn it is too early to have a clear picture of the devastation, but preliminary government data suggests more than 100 threatened animal and plant species have lost at least half their habitat and more than 300 have lost more than 10%. The impact on most species not currently listed as threatened is yet to be assessed. Birdlife Australia estimates nearly 80 birds have lost at least a third of the area in which they live, and that the superb lyrebird may have plunged from being a common to a threatened species