It’s understandable that non-sustainable human activities are damaging our planet’s health. The way we use our planet threatens our future and that of many plants and animals. Species extinction is an unavoidable endpoint.
The loss of Australian nature is important to be quantified accurately. It will be difficult putting an exact figure on the number of extinct species. But research has confirmed that 100 endemic Australian species living in 1788 are now officially listed as extinct.
This tally alarmingly shows that the number of extinct Australian species is much higher than previously thought.
Most accurate and reliable tally yet
Counts of extinct Australian species vary. There are a total 92 extinct Australian plants and animals that are on the list of the federal government. However, on this list, 20 are subspecies, 5 are now known to still exist in Australia and 7 surviving overseas. So, reducing the figure to 60.
The states and territories have also maintained their own extinction lists, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature keeps the Red List, a global database.
A research collects and combines these separate listings. Species that still exist overseas are excluded from the list, such as the water tassel-fern. Some species that, happily, have been rediscovered since being listed as extinct, or which are no longer recognized as valid species have also been excluded.
The conclusion showed that there are 100 plants and animals’ species that validly listed as having become extinct in the 230 years. Our tally includes three species listed as extinct in the wild, with two of these species still existing in captivity.
The 100 extinctions are drawn from formal lists but many extinctions are not official and valid. There are other species that disappeared before their existence was even recorded. More such species have not been seen for decades, and some scientists and Indigenous groups suspect that they are lost. We theorize that the actual tally of extinct Australian species is likely to be about ten times greater than we derived from official lists. Biodiversity loss is the biggest loss than extinctions alone
Learning from the past
The 100 identified extinctions carried the loss of Indigenous land management, its replacement with entirely new land uses and new settlers introducing species with little regard to deleterious impacts.
Australia’s fine national reserve system and threat management help the prospects of some species by legal protection. But these gains are overthrown by the legacy of previous habitat loss and fragmentation.
Our planet’s own population increase is causing much habitat loss, and new threats such as climate change, are the reason for more frequent and intense droughts and bushfires.
Environmental laws have also majorly failed to stem the extinction crisis. The national laws are now under review and the federal government has indicated that protections may be wound back. Now, this is not the time to weaken environmental laws further. Nature has incurred great costs for the creation of modern Australia.