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Asia Minute: Australian government adopts a new plan to protect threatened species

Australia Koalas
Rob Griffith/AP
FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2011, file photo, two Koalas climb a tree at a zoo in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

Hawaiʻi is sometimes called the “Endangered Species Capital of the World.” The state Department of Land and Natural Resources even includes that phrase on its website.

But Australia’s environment minister says that country is the world's “extinction capital” for mammals. And now the government is taking steps to reverse that trend.

Australia's government has introduced a 10-year plan to give wildlife there “a better chance” at survival.

In fact, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says she wants to stop the loss of any more species — mammals and otherwise.

In a statement, she said, “If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting the same results.”

The priority will be more than 100 animals and plants that are currently threatened.

The animals range from the koala to the Australian sea lion and the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby.

The government says the plan will cost about US$150 million — and will set aside at least 30% of Australia's land for conservation to improve biodiversity.

The location of the preserved lands has not been entirely determined. Those choices will involve consultations.

The government has identified 20 priority places it says are “very rich with biodiversity,” including half a dozen islands that conservation officials plan to target to eliminate invasive weeds and feral species from cats to foxes.

Nature Conservancy Australia is welcoming the plan, saying it serves “a dual purpose of protecting habitat and addressing climate change.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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