Can this app put Australia’s biodiversity ‘crisis’ on the election agenda?

Researchers have launched a web-based app that they hope will put Australia’s “threatened species crisis” at the top of the election agenda.

Threatened Australians, which was launched last week, allows users to access a profile of all the endangered species reported to be found – or which were until recently found – in their electorate.

For each species that is recorded, there are details on what threats are causing the decline of animals or plants in the selected electorate, and a “how to help” option.

That option takes the user to a pre-written email addressed to their local sitting federal member, outlining the steps that member needs to take to strengthen protections for the species at risk.

Other “how to help” options include connecting with NGOs working on local conservation projects.

It’s a politically non-partisan approach, which the developers said was born out of a recognition that “Australian species are in a disastrous state”.

App co-developer, conservation scientist James Watson of the University of Queensland said he also hoped the tool would be used as a source of information for journalists, so that they might interrogate party leaders and environment portfolio holders on their policies.

“It’s also set up for journalists and other stakeholders to ask questions around wildlife – instead of gotcha questions around the inflation rate, I would much rather ask questions about wildlife in their electorates.” ‘

‘Still time’ to put extinction on election radar

A number of researchers have been sounding the alarm over the continuing decline of Australia’s native wildlife, which Professor Watson said had become much worse over the past decade.

A graph showing decline in animals.
TSX data shows a steep decline in the abundance of endangered species relative to non-threatened ones from around 2000.(Supplied: Threatened Species Index)

“It’s quite remarkable that the only real party talking about these wildlife issues is the Greens – the Opposition isn’t bringing this up,” he said.

“All the science points to the fact that we haven’t got a lot of time left – 10 to 20 years and a lot of these species will disappear, [but] there’s still a chance it can be on the radar as we head to the polls. “


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