Australia’s tens of millions of years of isolation have led to an exceptional degree of endemism and evolutionary and geographical distinctiveness of its wildlife while its species richness is fairly limited.
69% of the Australian mammals - including marine mammals - are endemic.
Due to this distinctiveness, a loss of Australian species would mean a loss of global biodiversity. Conservation is therefore paramount. (Nipperess, 2015)

Interestingly the nutrient poverty of the soils and the high climatic variability have played significant roles in the development of those special evolutionary adaptations. (Nipperess, 2015)

However, the deliberate introduction of predators like cat, fox and dog and competitors (sheep, cow, rabbit) have decimated vulnerable marsupials and changed the structure and dynamics of Australian ecosystems profoundly leading to lowered distinctiveness. (Nipperess, 2015)

Biodiversity can be defined as the complex web of species and ecosystems and the ecological processes that link and sustain them. (Southgate, 2014)

The South West of Western Australia is the only mainland biodiversity hotspot in Australia. (Myers et al, 2000)

Australia is clearly experiencing an ecological crisis suffering the world’s highest recent mammal extinction rate. In only the last 200 years 27 species went extinct and 23% of mammals are now at risk of extinction. (Johnson, 2006)
Most of those declines and extinctions of Australian mammals have involved small to medium-sized species. (Burbidge and Mckenzie, 1989)

Those most threatened are native rodents (26%) and marsupials (24%) (Eldridge and Herbert, 2015).

The list of nationally threatened species and ecological communities ( -species-ecological-communities) is growing steadily and 2 more species have been reported extinct since 2011. (Jackson, 2017)

In May 2016, the greater glider was formally listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act 1999, which brought the total number of listed threatened mammal species to 108.
Loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat as a result of land clearing and urbanisation have caused the decline of the animal that lives in the eastern mainland forests and has similarly specialised dietary and habitat requirements as our western ringtail possum.
The most fundamental requirement to conserving species is clearly preventing loss of habitat. Only if we change dramatically the way we deal with and how we report on habitat loss, we might have a chance of stopping the extinction crisis.

Leading scientists see a sixth extinction wave approach, driven by our escalating human impacts. (Laurance and Ehrlich et al, 2016 , Kolbert, 2014)
Human population growth and economic pressures will have an increasingly strong effect on land-use, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change. Increasing human development pressures are also likely to reduce the positive impact of our conservation spending. (Waldron et al, 2017) Spending more now will clearly be cheaper than waiting while the problems get even more out of hand.
The issues we are struggling with today were already highlighted in the very first State of the Environment report in 1996 but nevertheless they are still increasing. (Jackson, 2017)

It does not seem helpful when our parting first threatened species commissioner declares that ‘there are bigger problems than land clearing’ and suggests leasing our rare and endangered wildlife to other countries in order to raise conservation funds. (Radio National Breakfast, 07/10/17)

We are often unaware of the functional role of a species in maintaining ecological processes and that the loss of one species can have a domino effect on other components of the ecological community. (Laurance and Ehrlich, 2016) In regards to our western ringtail possum it can be argued that the loss of Agonis flexuosa would be likely to lead to the loss of our possum while losing the ringtail might have so far unknown repercussions for our iconic SW tree communities.

If individual populations go locally extinct, it can reduce the genetic diversity and the ecosystem will be altered. (Laurance and Ehrlich, 2016)

The WA Auditor General Report 2008 was highly critical of the governance of natural resource management.  Performance of investments and delivery of environmental outcomes were seen as equally poor. The effectiveness of the threatened species conservation program could not be demonstrated due to a lack of monitoring and evaluation.

According to the Auditor’s 2017 assessment resources for threatened species management and conservation had been further reduced  and the department ‘s (now DBCA)  inaccurate accounting and poor leadership and decision making had failed WA species. (Claymore, 2017)

WA currently has no 'state of the environment' reporting in place and the last State of the Environment report is seriously outdated. (Young, 2017)

However, WA is also the only state without a state-wide biodiversity conservation plan, natural resource management plan, overarching threatened species strategy and master plan for the conservation reserve system. (Claymore, 2018) In this light, it comes as no surprise that the western ringtail possum recovery plan also does not include a conservation strategy.
The new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which was hailed as a major  achievement of the Barnett government, does not provide the framework to de-accelerate the biodiversity decline trend. Insider Keith Claymore (former senior officer in biodiversity conservation) accuses our government of ‘blind complacency and politically risk-averse decision making’. (Claymore, 2018

A review of biodiversity conservation in the whole of Australia in 2013 not only painted a bleak picture of decline and extinctions but also claimed that this was caused by governmental failure. (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013)
According to Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy a national long-term biodiversity monitoring system needs to be established – however, a review 5 years later admits that nothing has been done  and established programs are at risk of losing even more funding. (Preece, 2017)

Australia is listed as one of the 40 most severely underfunded countries regarding money spent on conservation issues, a highly worrying fact for a “nature-conscious, developed country with a treasure trove of biodiversity”. (Waldron et al, 2013)
State and Commonwealth governments usually allocate only around  1% of their budgets to the environment while effective biodiversity protection might need at least double that. (Jackson, 2017)

Funding for threatened species projects since 2014 amounted to only 0.017% of the government’s annual revenue (Preece, 2017) and the Australian Conservation Foundation expressed grave concerns that by 2019 the Federal Environment Department’s spending will be 38% lower than in 2013 with spending on biodiversity at its lowest for more than a decade. (

If we do not act soon, the rate of species extinctions will continue to increase. However, there is uncertainty how well our investments in conservation are working (Waldron et al, 2017) and without measurable positive outcomes, it will be hard to convince any government to increase spending. We need a functional model that shows the clear relationship between conservation spending and a decrease in biodiversity loss. (Waldron et al, 2017)

There is a lot of talk about threatened species management but it seems to have little influence on positive changes in the status of most species. (Watson et al, 2011a)

If recovery actions are agreed upon, there is still no legal obligation to fund them and even if there is funding it is usually inadequate. (Bottrill, 2011)
Also, historically recovery plans were often unable to diagnose the causes of decline accurately, which could turn them into costly failures. (Caughley and Gunn, 1996)
If in doubt, predation or the small population paradigm are usually cited.

We would need strategies that simultaneously tackle multiple threats. If predation is seen as the core problem and is tackled on its own, reduction of predators would have to be to implausibly low levels to lead to any viable recovery of a threatened population. Also, would mere concentration on predator control not mean that we treat a symptom instead of the disease, which is clearly increased vulnerability to predation due to massive scale habitat loss and ecosystem degradation?

Many studies also essentially just monitor the decline of a species. We have learned a lot about environmental problems such as biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change, but those issues cannot be tackled let alone be overcome in a culture of selfishness, greed and apathy.  (Watson et al, 2016)

Better training of resource managers and decision makers (Possingham, 2008), more consultation of specialists in planning and implementation of programs and coronial style inquiries to examine failures and assess accountability, are all needed in order for governance systems  to become more functional. (Southgate, 2014)

protected areas