Federal and state governments have signed up to an intergovernmental agreement to deliver a Common Assessment Method (CAM) for assessing the conservation status of all Australian threatened species. (Under the CAM, “species” is a general term that includes species, subspecies, varieties and hybrids).
The CAM aims to establish a consistent approach to assessing and listing threatened species. Assessments are based on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria, and conform to standards developed by a national Working Group representing all jurisdictions.
Under the CAM, each state or territory will have a single list of threatened species. In Victoria, this will consolidate three lists:
- Species listed as threatened under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC list)
- Species listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG list)
- Species included in three Victorian Advisory Lists i.e. Advisory List of Threatened Invertebrate Fauna in Victoria – 2009; Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna – 2013; and Advisory List of Rare or Threatened Plants in Victoria – 2014 as Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Rare.
Any species that are assessed under the CAM as Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable (EX, CR, EN, VU) at the state level, and any Victorian species listed under the EPBC Act, will be submitted to the Minister for consideration as the new FFG Threatened List under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019.
The Threatened List will have two parts - a national section, consisting of EPBC Act listed species, and a state section, consisting of species that are considered to be threatened in Victoria but have not been assessed nationally as threatened. A species can only be in one of them.
Over 2000 assessments are being delivered, by a range of experts from within and outside DELWP. All assessors used a commercial software program, RAMAS Red List Pro, to calculate the conservation status based on the relevant IUCN criteria, and to store all the data collected. The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Scientific Advisory Committee has reviewed many of the assessments and is continuing to do so.
When the assessments are complete, all will be made available for public comments to seek any additional information. If relevant new evidence arises as a result, the assessment may be amended. Only nature conservation matters will be considered. Comments relating to perceived social or economic impacts arising from the assessments will not be considered.
- All species, subspecies and varieties on DELWP’s Advisory Lists that are Extinct in the Wild, Regionally eEtinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Rare.
Note: for this project, species, subspecies and varieties are lumped together as “taxa” in the assessment documentation. For the purposes of this background information, they will be described just as “species”.
- Species listed as threatened under the FFG Act 1988.
- Excluded are species that are extinct; have unconfirmed taxonomy; have been more recently regarded as not occurring in Victoria; or have already been assessed under the CAM at the national level i.e. are “CAM-compliant”.
- In total, 2039 species were assessed, consisting of 198 vertebrates (24 mammals, 90 birds, 38 reptiles, 14 amphibians, 32 fish); 130 invertebrates (marine, freshwater, terrestrial); and 1711 plants (including mosses, lichens and fungi).
All species are being assessed at the Victorian scale, regardless of their status under the EPBC Act, to fit three possible scenarios:
- a) The species is endemic to Victoria. If it’s EPBC listed but is an older assessment that doesn’t comply with the CAM (i.e. is a “legacy” species), or is not yet assessed at the national level, then the Victorian assessment will provide the basis for a future EPBC assessment or re-assessment.
- b) The species has a multi-state range and may be nationally threatened, but it hasn’t been nominated for EPBC listing or has not been prioritised for assessment by the Federal Threatened Species Scientific Committee. But when it does, data from Victoria will be needed for a full assessment.
- c) The species is an EPBC “legacy” species. In the future it will need to be re-assessed to become CAM-compliant, and Victorian data will be needed.
The CSA Project is assessing all currently threatened Victorian taxa, so while the project had resources and staff, we aimed to collect as much information as possible, to contribute to EPBC future assessments
Several well-known and high-profile species are not included in this assessment process, because they are already “CAM-compliant” or are in the process of being assessed under the EPBC Act.
Examples of these are the Leadbeater’s Possum, Greater Glider, Mountain Pygmy Possum, Long-footed Potoroo, Helmeted Honeyeater, Regent Honeyeater, Hooded Plover, Plains-wanderer, Baw Baw Frog, Eltham Copper Butterfly, Fringed Spider-orchid. All of these will be included on the new Threatened List using their EPBC conservation status.
Overall, 80 separate individuals contributed to assessments.
- Staff of DELWP, from the Arthur Rylah Institute of Environmental Research; Forest, Fire and Regions; and Biodiversity Division.
- Staff of Museums Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- Academics and researchers.
- Private contractors and environmental consultants.
- Individual experts.
The list of experts was endorsed by the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Scientific Advisory Committee.
The Victorian bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020 covered large areas of East Gippsland and the north-east and affected a wide range of threatened species. Some of these, such as rainforest species, are completely or partially restricted to these areas. As a result of the difficulty in accessing much of the fire areas, and the time it will take to determine how these species have been affected, it’s difficult to determine how the fires may have led to a change in their status. For many species, we can only note that the fires may have had an impact, and that the results of future monitoring may lead to a need fora re-assessment in the future. For others, fire area and intensity mapping may show that important habitat has been unaffected, or only slightly affected.
Any species that are regarded as fire sensitive have been re-considered, and some may have been upgraded to a higher status (on the basis of an increased past or future decline) if the expert assessor believes that this is warranted.
The Single Operational List (SOL) will have two sections – a national section and a state section.
The national section includes all EPBC-listed plants and animals, those that are recent and “CAM compliant”, and those that were listed pre-CAM, and therefore not “CAM compliant”. These are regarded as “legacy” species, and over time will be scheduled for re-assessment.
The state section consists of species that have been assessed under this project as being Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable, and nationally, have either not been assessed or are not regarded as threatened.
A species can only be in one of these sections. So for a species assessed as Critically Endangered within its Victorian range but is EPBC-listed as Vulnerable nationally, it will stay in the Vulnerable category in the SOL.
Page last updated: 01/06/20