WALGA undertakes both policy and projects covering a range of environmental issues, creates awareness about specific environmental issues and provides resources to support Local Government Officers and Elected Members.

Key Policy Areas and Projects

Current Issues

Release of Report on the 5th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities

The 5th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational Governments was held in Mexico in December 2016, convened by ICLEI.  The Summit focused on ‘mainstreaming biodiversity’, with participation from over 73 countries, 200 Local Governments and 700 delegates.  ICLEI released a report detailing the outcomes from the Summit this month, which can be viewed here.

Eleven new biodiversity initiatives were launched at the summit, with some of the highlights as follows:
  • A Wetland City Accreditation Scheme was introduced under the Ramsar Convention, which provides an opportunity for cities to gain international recognition for wetland conservation, depending on various criteria being met.
  • The #NatureForAll Project aims to inspire all sectors of society to share their love of nature and take action to support conservation.
  • CITYFOOD Network aims to support urban agriculture and sustainable food systems.

The Summit promoted nature-based urban planning and development, and contributed to the attainment of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020 and associated Aichi Biodiversity Targets, of which the Australian Government has committed to meeting.
 
The Summits are parallel engagement platforms to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the  Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).   The Summits are held every two years, with the previous one held in South Korea in 2014.  For more information, visit the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability website.
 

Australian State of the Environment Report

The Australian State of the Environment (SoE) 2016 Overview was tabled in Parliament on 7 March 2017, as required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  The Australian Government conducts a review every five years and produces nine thematic reports (e.g. biodiversity, land, atmosphere), with information about condition, trends and pressures provided for each.  

The reports highlight that climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and invasive species remain the key environmental pressures.  Amplified by cumulative impacts, much of Australia’s environment is in decline.  The poor state and declining trend of Australia’s biodiversity is of particular concern, as are the increased pressures in coastal areas.  Key challenges to address include weak legislative frameworks, poor coordination of policies and management arrangements between different managers, translating policy into action, and insufficient resources.

The SoE reports can be accessed from the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy website.

States and territories of Australia also produce SoE reports, generally every three to five years.  The Government of Western Australia last produced a report in 2007, while all other States and Territories have produced reports within the past four years, with the exception of Tasmania (2009).
 

Commencement of Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 was partially proclaimed in the Government Gazette on 2 December 2016.  The Act will fully replace the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Sandalwood Act 1929 later this year once the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations have been made.
 
Certain provisions of the Act are now in operation, including the ability to establish biodiversity management programmes, and biodiversity conservation agreements and covenants.
 
The Act strengthens biodiversity conservation in Western Australia by providing for the recognition of threatened ecological communities, threatening processes and critical habitats.  It also provides incentives for conservation initiatives with private landowners, and new maximum penalties for illegal taking.
 
An InfoPage that summarises the new provisions of the Act can be found here.  Public consultation on the draft regulations will be invited this year, please refer to progress updates on the Department of Parks and Wildlife website here.
 

Commonwealth Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Review

Australia has a growing list of more than 1,800 plants and animals listed as threatened under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  The Commonwealth Government's Threatened Species Strategy was launched in July 2015, and establishes a five year action plan to protect and recover Australia's threatened plants and animals. 

In December 2016, the Threatened Species Commissioner released the Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Report.  Achievements included feral cat control, creation of predator-free sanctuaries, implementation of recovery projects for 10 priority threatened birds and 20 priority threatened mammals, and implementation of recovery projects in threatened species habitat.  The challenge of recovery is significant, with 49 new additions to the threatened species list in 2016 alone.  An InfoPage that summaries the report can be found here.