Australia has not updated a register of habitat critical for the protection of threatened species for 15 years, prompting experts to call for it to be strengthened to protect more types of land. An independent scientific body that advises the government on threatened species also says the environment minister should be given emergency powers to protect habitat after natural disasters. It comes as the release of the interim report into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which had been due this week, was delayed. The review’s chair, former competition watchdog head Graeme Samuel, delivered his report to the environment minister, Sussan Ley, early this week. A spokesman for Ley said on Friday the report “will be released in due course”. Under the laws, the government can identify land important to the survival of a species and list it on the national critical habitat register. The register makes it an offence to knowingly damage habitat on the list but it has rarely been used since the EPBC Act was introduced, with only five places registered, the most recent of which was in 2005. The strict protections it grants also only apply to commonwealth land, which severely reduces the power of… Read full this story
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