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Australasian Plant Conservation

Originally published in Australasian Plant Conservation 17(2) August - September 2008, p 1

From the Editor

Rosemary Purdie
c/- Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra. Email: Rosemary.Purdie@environment.gov.au

Most of this issue of Australasian Plant Conservation (APC) is not light reading. However its content focuses on an extremely important element of plant conservation in Australia: the laws and associated regulations for recognising threatened species and ecological communities and listing them in categories such as extinct, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or rare.

These laws provide the major framework for protecting threatened species and communities, usually through the development of documents outlining the actions needed both to aid their recovery and mitigate the processes threatening them, and a requirement that they be considered in environmental impact assessment processes. For this reason alone, plant conservation practitioners need to know not just what plants or ecological communities are listed, but understand how these decisions have been reached and what they mean. Bob Makinson, with the help of numerous colleagues, has compiled a directory of the national and state/territory laws governing threatened plant species/community listings. The directory is intended to make it easier for people to know how each act operates, the listing processes involved, the implications of listing, the limits of each act and where to find more information (mostly on the web) or who to contact in relevant agencies.

Like concepts of plant taxa and ecological communities, threatened species legislation is an evolving concept. Periodic reviews of the laws occur and some reviews are currently in process or have been flagged. Each new iteration of an act attempts to improve on earlier versions, to address weaknesses, deficiencies or unintended outcomes, and often builds on the experience of other jurisdictions. This issue of APC facilitates comparison of the different laws.

The laws are never without their critics - often they are considered "too weak" or "too strong", depending on the context. However robust debate about the laws is a necessary and important element in their ongoing evolution. To this end, this issue of APC includes articles that assess the effectiveness of plant conservation laws in one state and one territory: South Australia (Tim Jury) and the ACT (Catherine Potter). Time precluded us getting similar articles for other jurisdictions, but most profiles contain references to recent analyses of the primary law covered in the profile.

This issue of APC also contains articles about information systems (Wendy Potts) and community involvement (Phil Collier & Jenny Calder) in threatened species conservation in Tasmania, and a summary of an ecological community recently declared as nationally threatened (John Vranjic).

Because of the size of this issue, some of the regular items have been held over for APC 17(3). Even if you don't read every word in this current issue, hopefully it will prove a useful document, worth keeping handy for ready reference about the primary laws relating to Australia's threatened vegetation and flora.