Report on the review of the first five years of Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy

Department of the Environment and Energy,
Australian Government, 2016

Executive summary

Australia has one of the most ecologically diverse environments on the planet. Our natural environments are home to a rich and unique diversity of species and ecosystems across terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments. We are also very fortunate in retaining a remarkable array of biodiversity in many of our built environments and modified landscapes.

Our existence is critically dependent on the biodiversity in the landscapes that surround us. It is synonymous with our national and cultural identity and underpins our quality of life. We derive social, health and economic benefits through our interactions with biological diversity across the continuum of Australian landscapes.

Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 (the Strategy) was released in 2010 and is the guiding framework for governments to conserve our national biodiversity to 2030. It provides an overview of the state of Australia’s biodiversity and outlines collective priorities for conservation. The Strategy aims to coordinate efforts at a national level across all sectors to sustainably manage biological resources in a way that meets our current needs and ensures their long term resilience, health and viability.

In addition to being Australia’s national framework for biodiversity conservation, the Strategy acts as Australia’s principal instrument for implementing the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Strategy provides for a review every five years supporting an adaptive national framework that continues to guide conservation activities informed by current and relevant priorities.

This review, conducted by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association, examined the operation and national implementation of the Strategy since its establishment, its ability to deliver Australia’s international biodiversity-related commitments, and opportunities for improvement.

Since the establishment of the Strategy in 2010, all governments, together with Indigenous peoples and organisations, businesses, environmental non-government organisations and community groups have successfully contributed to positive biodiversity conservation outcomes.  While progress has been consistent with the intended objectives of the Strategy, the review revealed the Strategy has not has been a strong driver of these efforts.

The review identified several factors which have affected the Strategy’s implementation and its success in delivering against its intent, including its governance, reporting and institutional frameworks; its ability to facilitate increased engagement in biodiversity conservation across society; and the effectiveness of the Strategy’s design for prioritising and coordinating action.

Key findings

Key findings of the review are:

1. The Strategy did not engage, guide, or communicate its objectives to all audiences in a useful way.

  • The Strategy is long and often technical, limiting its ability to influence a broad audience.
  • The Strategy does not clearly articulate its intended use for different levels of government and other relevant sectors.
  • There is inadequate guidance for decision makers to determine how best to direct investment for biodiversity conservation.
  • Overall, the Strategy’s targets did not effectively guide the efforts of governments, other organisations or individuals. Some targets were unclear or difficult to measure, while others were not tightly tied to the Strategy’s outcomes.

2. The Strategy is too focused on preventing the loss of biodiversity in natural terrestrial environments and does not consider biodiversity contributions across all landscapes.

  • The Strategy is generally focused on the restoration and protection of natural environments and does not provide a framework for biodiversity conservation in built or production landscapes.
  • The Strategy does not clearly resonate with people living in urban or rural environments or make key linkages to livelihoods, and health and wellbeing.
  • The Strategy includes few outcomes designed to specifically improve the health and resilience of biodiversity in marine and aquatic environments.
  • The Strategy does not adequately recognise that governments must achieve a balance between short and long term social, economic and environmental interests.

3. The Strategy has not effectively influenced biodiversity conservation activities.

  • There was no ongoing oversight from jurisdictions to facilitate and coordinate implementation of the Strategy.
  • An implementation plan, including allocation of responsibility for actions, has not been established and coordinated implementation of the Strategy has been ineffective.
  • The expectation that a new, stand alone monitoring and reporting framework would be developed for the Strategy was ambitious and did not build on existing efforts.

4. Alignment of the Strategy with the Convention on Biological Diversity, and other related international obligations, could be enhanced.

  • Timing of the Strategy’s release was not ideal as it preceded the adoption of the Convention’s Strategic Plan, making its implementation through the Strategy challenging.
  • The Strategy could more comprehensively align with the Convention’s Strategic Plan and be adaptable to evolving themes and priorities.


The review recommends the Strategy be revised in light of these findings, recognising a national biodiversity strategy remains uniquely placed to:

  • manage transboundary environmental issues,
  • deliver on biodiversity-related issues that require Australian Government authority or cooperation from multiple jurisdictions, and
  • coordinate effort and leverage investment on shared priorities for biodiversity management.


Please direct any enquiries on the review to [email protected]

Background documents


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