Latest News

Back to Latest News back


More than 50 Australian plant species face extinction within 10 years

More than 50 Australian plant species face extinction within 10 years
December 26, 2018

More than 50 Australian plant species are under threat of extinction within the next decade, according to a major study of the nation’s threatened flora.

Just 12 of the most at-risk species were found to be listed as critically endangered under Federal environment laws - the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act - and 13 had no national threatened listing at all.

The scientists behind the research, published in the Australian Journal of Botany this month, say the results point to a need for re-evaluation of Australia’s national lists for threatened plants.

It is the first major assessment of the status of Australia’s threatened flora in more than two decades.

Plants account for about 70% of Australia’s national threatened species list, with 1,318 varieties listed as either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

The research team assessed species that met criteria for either a critical or endangered listing at national or state levels to track their rate of decline.

As reported by the Guardian, they did this by reviewing all available literature on the plants - including recovery plans, conservation advice and peer-reviewed research - and conducting interviews with 125 botanists, ecologists and land managers with expertise on particular geographic regions or species.

The study examined 1,135 species, including 81 that were unearthed through the interview process as being eligible for a critically endangered or endangered listing but did not have one.

It found 418 plants had continued declines in their population and a further 265 species had insufficient monitoring information available to determine their status.

The scientists concluded that 55 species were at high risk of extinction within the next 10 years, with fewer than 250 individual plants or only a single population remaining. They found just 12 of the most imperilled species were listed under the EPBC Act as critically endangered and 13 had no listing at all.

They said there were also 56 species of plants currently on the critically endangered list that they assessed as having no documented declines or that were stable or even increasing.

The study advises "this points to a clear need for re-evaluation and standardisation of current lists, and consistent application of IUCN listing guidelines.

“There is also a need to collect systematic, repeatable field data for most of [the] species, to back up suspected and projected declines and provide a stronger basis for investment in recovery actions.”

The report authors added that the size of the list of species that were too poorly known for their conservation status to be properly assessed, highlighted the need for further surveys and monitoring and was likely to be an underestimate of the true number of potentially imperilled species.

Jennifer Silcock, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland, said many of the most at-risk species were concentrated in specific areas.

They include the wheatbelt of south-western Australia, south-eastern Queensland and the Sydney basin where rapid urban development has impacted on plant species, and south-eastern South Australia and Victoria, which has been heavily cleared for agriculture.

Many of the most vulnerable species are shrubs and, in southern Australia, orchids, with the remaining populations of some species so small they are concentrated to single areas on roadsides.

Silcok told the Guardian that for "some of these species, it would just take a grader truck from a council to accidentally run over them to destroy a whole population.

“Some of these areas are only a couple of metres wide.”

The major threats to most species include further habitat destruction and development, disease and – particularly for species with only small remnant populations remaining – incursion from weeds.

The paper calls for “concerted, targeted and efficient recovery efforts”, such as better habitat protection.

Silcock said while there was a very high risk of extinction for some species, the research showed that for many plants there was not the same “catastrophic march toward extinction” that was facing Australian fauna.

She concluded “Australian plant conservation is not the disaster zone that mammal conservation is. A lot of the species are doing quite well but it’s not a reason for complacency because a lot of these species are right on the edge.

“It’s a good news story in that there are things we can do, but it’s a call to action because if we don’t do something there are species that will be lost.” 

Image: The wollemi pine is a under threat. Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Related Articles

26th April 2018 - WTTC and UN Climate Change in new partnership to tackle global warming

11th April 2018 - NSW Government to plant five million new trees across Sydney by 2030

7th March 2018 - Scientists fear for future of Kings Park’s woodlands

19th November 2016 - Central Melbourne’s trees need to adapt to climate change

17th October 2016 - Rising temperatures set to devastate plant life

20th November 2014 - IUCN summit delivers major commitments to save Earth’s most precious natural areas

20th August 2014 - Federal Government appoints commissioner for threatened species

6th May 2014 - Asian leaders and IUCN establish new partnership for protected areas

17th January 2012 - Plantbank vital for bio-diversity

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Vticket Pty Ltd is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., the world leader in high-speed access control, admission control and ticketing software for the…

read more

Attractions / Security / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



PathMinder Pty Ltd have partnered with AllUser Industries srl to bring Europe’s most advanced high security portals to the Australian and New Zealand markets. AllUser Industries started to…

read more

Access / Fitness / Recreation / Security


Fun Wheels Pty Ltd

Fun Wheels Pty Ltd are the premium dealer in Australasia for the Dutch company BERG’s commercial and domestic products. Our flagship product is their revolutionary pedal go-kart – the…

read more

Attractions / Tourism / Venues


Yellowbox Lockers

Yellowbox is an Australian technology company that has developed smart locker technology operated through an app with a focus on experience for users and facility managers. Found at Beaches, Aquatic…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Entertainment / Retail / Security


BioLab Australia Pty Ltd

BioGuard is Australia and New Zealand’s most trusted supplier of premium, innovative and affordable commercial water treatment systems and chemicals. BioGuard offers a comprehensive range of…

read more

Aquatics / Technology / Waterparks



ICP is an Australian-based company focused on indoor climbing. ICP will manage your project from initial design to completion and beyond, whether you're building an international-level climbing…

read more

Attractions / Fitness / Recreation



Swimplex Aquatics are a world-class company dedicated to the commercial pool, waterslide industry. We are Australian market leaders servicing all states Australia wide. Swimplex provide a full…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Design / Play / Waterparks


Centaman Entrance Control

Turnstile Entry Systems and Access Control Centaman Entrance Controls’ Award Winning Range of Access Control Systems includes tripod & triarm turnstiles, speedgates, full height…

read more

Access / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business