Dire State of Environment Report an early warning for the NT

Dear Northern Territory Leaders, 

Australia’s State of Environment Report 2021 paints a devastating picture of catastrophic loss of species and habitats, and failing natural systems. 

Tragically, this was avoidable. Warnings were ignored. Promises were made, but not delivered.

The report found that Australia's rivers, catchments and coasts are in poor condition, and deteriorating. Immediate action is needed to turn things around.

While our rivers and coasts are facing growing threats and we’re seeing signs of decline, here in the NT they are still in relatively good shape.

We ask that you listen to these warnings and act now to ensure that we keep our Top End coasts and rivers healthy. 

The health of nature in the Top End is facing growing threats and we are seeing signs of decline. The warnings are already here. Climate change impacts like coral bleaching and mangrove dieback, feral animals and invasive weeds, pollution and industrialisation are all taking their toll. 

One of the best tools we have to protect nature in the Top End are well-managed parks and reserves. This is why the NT Parks Masterplan 2022-52 is so important. 

It is encouraging that the draft NT Parks Masterplan recognised the importance of our parks and provided a clear plan with goals and targets to protect our natural and cultural values. But this ambitious plan will need to be matched with ambitious funding if it is to deliver what Top End nature and culture needs.

A credible allocation from general revenue should be the principal means of funding the protected area system. This investment should support expansion of protected areas on land and sea and active management such as Aboriginal ranger programs.

Further, the following issues need to be addressed in the final plan, all of which are in line with the findings in the State of the Environment Report:

  • Recognition that the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976 is outdated and needs modernising;
  • The NT Government should properly assess and value the contribution protected areas make to the Territory’s economy and reinvest a commensurate amount for their ongoing management and expansion; 
  • Recognition of coastal and marine biogeographic regions that are unrepresented or have only a minimal extent of reserves; and
  • Recognition of the important role that sea country Indigenous Protected Areas, marine parks and sea country management plans play in protecting marine biodiversity and cultural values. 

The Fyles Government will need to invest now if it is to deliver an effective NT Parks Masterplan and protect the Top End from the catastrophic environmental decline happening across Australia.