Media release

Environment Groups Urge Northern Territory Chief Minister

Wednesday, 21 February 2024

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Environment Groups Urge Northern Territory Chief Minister to Take Action to Protect Nature 

21 February 2024  

On Monday, Territory and national environment and conservation groups, including BirdLife Australia, delivered a dire message to the Northern Territory Chief Minister, advocating for urgent measures to protect the Territory’s unique and irreplaceable wildlife and natural landscapes. 

For too long the nature of the Northern Territory has been deprioritised compared to demands from the pastoral and agricultural sector and is suffering death by a thousand cuts from avoidable threats like indiscriminate land clearing, invasive species impacts and global warming induced changes to the already extreme climate. 

The Top End of the NT is home to part of the largest intact tropical savanna ecosystem in the world. Sadly, it was also assessed as one of  nineteen ecosystems at imminent threat of collapse.  

Brittany Hayward- Brown, Convenor of BirdLife Top End says that the lack of biodiversity conservation legislation in the NT is failing to protect local birds and their habitats, and value their contribution to the NT’s economy.  

“Thirty-eight Northern Territory birds are now nationally recognised as Threatened, four of which are Critically Endangered, meaning they are one step away from extinction.”  

“Birds like the Endangered Red Goshawk have had almost 550,000 hectares, or the equivalent area of 78 times Uluru-Kata Juta National Park, of potential habitat destroyed, unabated, across the Territory since the year 2000 alone,” she said. 

Red Goshawk. Image by John Stirling.

“Meanwhile, some of the Territory’s most valuable natural areas, such as Lee Point in Darwin’s northern suburbs or the famous Mataranka Thermal Pools, are on the chopping block because the legislation and planning foresight required to protect them is virtually non-existent.”  

“We are the only jurisdiction in Australia not to have native vegetation protection laws, instead there are only ‘guidelines’. What we see time and time again is the short-sighted prioritisation of destructive industries over recognising the immense value that birds and their habitats can offer to our economy through alternatives like avi-tourism, and I think Territorians have had enough of it.”  

Environment groups stand ready to work with the Northern Territory Government to genuinely protect the Territory’s unique nature and are calling for: 

  1. The Enactment of specific biodiversity conservation legislation, which will address the unique conservation challenges by the Northern Territory and to provide a legal framework that prioritises the protection of its diverse ecosystems and wildlife. 
  2. The support for long-term conservation planning that is community-led, scientifically-grounded, and that respect the rights and concerns of First Nations Peoples. 
  3. The launch of an NT Biodiversity Strategy to plan the action necessary to reduce threats and restore nature, with transparent evaluation and reporting.   

Media contacts: 

BirdLife Top End – Brittany Hayward-Brown – Convenor – 0466 6452 193 

BirdLife Australia – Andrew Hunter – Campaigns Manager 0449 935 184