The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 8: Lost in translation: threatened species law in Australia
Australia is currently experiencing an unprecedented expansion of mining activities into previously unaffected rural regions, encroaching lands of high environmental and agricultural value. Coal seam gas and mining potentially threaten surface and groundwater resources. Australia’s environmental laws are perceived to be ill-equipped to respond and sufficiently manage these new land-use conflictsgiving rise to a greater risk of adverse environmental and social impacts. These new land-use conflicts involve very complex institutional issues in particular new players competing for scarce natural resources. The mining industry is considered a powerfuland often government-supported player as mining royalties create a duplicitous relationship for State governments. They are responsible for representing the public interest in sustainable natural resource management, but mining royalties provide significant revenue to support government expenditures. The State of New South Wales (NSW) alone earned $1.28 billion in royalty revenues in 2008/09. This chapter will explore the current trends in biodiversity in Australia, the mining boom underway and the evolution of environmental law in Australia since the ‘Rio Declaration on Environment and Development’ (commonly known as the Rio Declaration). The discussion will use a case study focusing on threatened species legislation as the lens to explore the issues. It will concentrate on an IUCN red listed endangered species, the Giant Barred Frog (Mixophyes iteratus) whose habitat is potentially threatened by mining activities in the state of NSW, Australia.
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