President’s letter

Published 03/07/12 | by Brian Bainbridge

What if flora and fauna had a vote?

In early May IFFA took part in a deputation to the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Lisa Neville. We joined concerned members of the public to express concern at the dismissal of Threatened Species Officers by the State Government under Ted Baillieu.

In recent months IFFA has made a number of submissions to the State Government advising our objection to changes being made in land management and species conservation.

We are aware of further troubling proposals in the near future.

There are many dedicated environmental advocacy groups; why should IFFA engage in political process? To put it simply, flora and fauna doesn’t have a vote, our members do.

What will be the result of the dismissal of DSE and DPI officers?

Loss of experienced officers contributes to scientific amnesia

Results of long-term monitoring are crucial to virtually all threatened species conservation programs. Effective monitoring programs combine scientific rigour, meticulous record keeping and effective sharing of results in recognised forums. It is a skill-set that takes years to develop and will need to be redeveloped under a future government that recognizes the state’s moral and legal obligations to biodiversity conservation. What a waste.

Lost support for volunteers

The expertise and consistency of these officers supported and orchestrated volunteers who give massively of their time and energy. This ‘multiplier effect’ is apparently unrecognised by the recent cuts.

What if flora and fauna had a vote?

We have been repeatedly assured these cuts will not affect ‘front-line workers’.

For Victoria’s flora and fauna, the threatened species officers are the ‘front line’ workers. Job losses are tragic for individuals but for endangered flora and fauna, such chopping and changing can be terminal. Many species now rely on consistent effort to maintain and recover their habitats.

Threatened species projects inspire hope and care for our environment’s future

The genuine gains these projects achieve energise the public in the face of seemingly endless news of ecological decline.

IFFA members are intensely concerned about these changes and related ones such as the starvation of our reserve system. The impact of neglected weed control programs on public land is a perennial issue of particular concern to rural landholders conservationists alike. Cuts at DSE and DPI will starve weed programs. Timely and consistent treatment is essential in weed programs. Delay can lead to vastly increased expenditure a few years down the track. This is summed up in the old adage that ‘one years seeds equals seven years weeds’ and these shortsighted cuts are sowing the seeds for years of ‘catch up’.

If you disagree with the direction this government is taking, what can you do? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Identify and record the impact of these cuts on your local environment, local parks and volunteer groups.
  • Tell your local member of Parliament that you are unhappy with this direction and demand a response. Is the case ‘newsworthy’? Ring up or write to your favourite newspaper.
  • Support and become active in groups addressing this issue.
  • Where these programs impact Nationally listed species and communities, make sure your Federal member hears about it as well as the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke.
  • If you have worked with any staff that have been let go, ensure they know that their contribution has been valued.
  • Identify your allies, they may be found in unexpected places. Many businesses involved in land management will suffer from the lost support for their industry these cuts represent.

Finally, remember to ‘nourish the soul’. Find time to be in nature and with friends. Strengthen yourself for your sake and for the sake of the environment you are working to protect.

Further information: http://www.iffa.org.au/backwardsspiral- continues-baillieu-government-axes-threatenedspecies- officers