Recovery and conservation of threatened macropods in Australia and New Guinea

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Australia/New-Zealand > Australia

Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Papua New Guinea
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Irian Jaya

Brush tailed rock wallaby
© WWF-Australia Ryan Collins

Summary

WWF Australia is developing a Species Action Plan for threatened macropods of Australia and New Guinea, to guide recovery efforts with a view to ensuring that all macropods are thriving in their natural habitats.

Background

WWF’s international Flagship Species Program uses iconic species to promote the conservation of threatened species and their habitats, as well as the broader suite of species that rely on those habitats. In addition to WWF’s commitment to internationally recognised species such as African elephants and marine turtles, WWF Australia has taken responsibility for promoting macropods.

WWF Australia, in partnership with Australian and state governments, researchers, recovery teams, non-government organisations and others, will develop a 10-year Macropod Action Plan that details the required actions necessary to ensure the long-term security and conservation of all species of macropods.

Macropods are taken to be those species in the Macropodidae, Potoroidae and Hypsiprymnodontidae families, with a total of 72 species occurring throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Of these 72 species, 39 are listed as threatened or near threatened by the IUCN Red List.

Macropods face an enormous range of threats to their survival, from traditional hunting and habitat loss in New Guinea, to fox predation and changing fire patterns in Australia. Conservation work for macropods is sporadic, poorly resourced and sometimes untargeted. A strategic and cooperative approach to conservation is required if we are to protect, restore and manage these iconic species in the long term.

Objectives

By 2060, all species of macropods extant in 2010 have multiple secure subpopulations in the wild.

By 2020, all threatened macropods will be eligible to be moved from a category of higher threat to a category of lower threat according to IUCN Red List criteria.

The specific objectives of the program are:
- Develop a leading edge macropod action plan and associated business plan and communication strategy for recovery of key macropod species over the period 2010-2020.
- Develop networks with relevant external experts from government, community, academia, policy and management to ensure the highest level of technical expertise and scientific credibility is utilised to support the macropod action plan, and to ensure broad acceptance of the plan.
- Develop proposals and concepts and secure support for priority macropod recovery actions and transformational advocacy work.
- Promote the delivery of the macropod action plan targets through advocacy, facilitation and effective networking.

Solution

WWF Australia is working with national and state governments, researchers, recovery teams and non-government organisations to develop a comprehensive strategy for the long-term survival of macropod species listed as threatened or near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The development and implementation of a communication strategy associated with the action plan will assist in raising the profile of macropods with governments, the private sector, NGOs and the broader community. Further, the business plan will seek to raise substantial funds to direct towards key macropod conservation projects.

While the prospects for influencing macropod conservation in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are in some ways more challenging than in Australia, the macropod program will also seek to build the capacity in those countries to effect landscape-scale conservation, ultimately benefiting macropods as well as a range of associated habitats and species, whilst also being mindful of human development issues.

The Macropod Action Plan will consider all macropod species on the IUCN Red List listed as threatened or near threatened following the Global Mammal Assessment in 2008.

This first phase of the project will result in a comprehensive action plan for threatened macropods. This document will be used to generate funds for management implementation, and as the basis for fostering broader support for the conservation of macropods and their habitats.

In implementing the action plan over the coming years, WWF Australia seeks to catalyse a collaborative effort towards macropod recovery and conservation. The participation of other agencies is crucial to achieving the objectives of the action plan, therefore WWF Australia will play an important role in advocacy for macropod conservation long into the future. In this context, the implementation phase of the project will involve the mobilisation of governments in Australia and New Guinea, non-government organisations, researchers, indigenous groups and local communities in a multi-national effort towards macropod recovery.

WWF will continue some of its past recovery work, which has included fox control and habitat reconnection for the black-flanked rock wallaby in WA, working with cattle property owners in the central Queensland highlands to provide a safe haven for the bridled nailtail wallaby, and assisting with the translocation of 23 brush-tailed rock wallabies to their native habitat in NSW. The success of the implementation phase will be contingent upon cooperation between a range of departments, agencies and organisations that are active in macropod conservation and recovery.

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