How big is the problem of invasive species? In the words of Deakin University’s Professor Euan Ritchie, ‘the short answer is: it’s massive’. Invasive genes and species are one of the biggest environmental problems facing Australia and the number one cause of native species extinctions. They also cause immense economic and cultural damage; since the 1960s, Australia has variously spent and incurred losses amounting to $390 billion due to invasive species.
This report and position paper from the Royal Society of Victoria (RSV) addresses the conservation and recovery of Australia’s unique biodiversity, particularly in the State of Victoria. It summarises the current state of reviews, responses and policies in Victoria in the broader Australian and global context, with recommendations for action.
The fate of the thylacine was not an isolated incident in Australia’s recent history – rather, it represents a story repeated so often that it lacks the shocking impact it should have. To compare with a different story that regularly draws greater national focus: every 4 years Australia has sent athletes to compete at the Olympic Games, while every 2.34 years Australia has completely removed another species from existence.
Knowledge holders and leaders from across Victoria, including Traditional Owners, gathered at the Royal Society of Victoria to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Victoria in biodiversity conservation and recovery, considering the urgent need to establish an independent Taskforce. RSV President Rob Gell framed the biodiversity crisis as “everyone’s problem.”
The home of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot once stretched from Melbourne to the South Australian border. In the 1970’s, the population dropped to around 1000 and then, within a decade, there were only 150 left. The last refuge of the EBBs was in Hamilton – one of the last places in Victoria they could be found in the wild. In 1988, the EBB Recovery Team was formed to respond to the continued population decline, and they had to act quickly.