Designing Regulation for Conservation and Biosecurity
Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2009
18 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2010
Date Written: August, 30 2010
Much Australian law for the protection of ecological assets has inherited a focus on species and their habitats, reflected in a reliance on taxonomic lists as triggers for action. We argue that an over-reliance on lists may compromise the effectiveness of conservation actions because it overlooks the potential value of managing complete ecological systems. We consider three aspects of environmental law: the control of new threats, particularly invasive plants; the protection of native species and their habitats; and the rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems. We focus principally on federal weed and quarantine legislation, and biodiversity conservation law.
Australian federal threatened species legislation largely reflects international obligations, which focus on the protection of particular species. In quarantine and invasive control law, lists of species are a legacy of this historical focus. The law has struggled to keep pace with the recent emergence of the discipline of conservation biology, which itself has not been effective in communicating uncertainties. We argue that increasing threats from invasive pests, diseases and pathogens, salinity, changed climate and disturbance regimes require new legal responses which should embrace a more cohesive legal framework together with ecosystem thinking that supplements list-based, species-focused legislation.
Keywords: conservation, environmental law, biodiversity conservation law, ecosystems
JEL Classification: K00, K39, Q20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation