Council of Australian Governments (1996) National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity: extract

National Strategy for the Conservation of
Australia's Biological Diversity


The Strategy recognises that:

  • The conservation of biological diversity provides significant cultural, economic, educational, environmental, scientific and social benefits for all Australians.
  • There is a need for more knowledge and better understanding of Australia's biological diversity.
  • There is a pressing need to strengthen current activities and improve policies, practices and attitudes to achieve conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • We share the earth with many other life forms that have intrinsic value and warrant our respect, whether or not they are of benefit to us.
  • It acknowledges the core objectives of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development:
    • to enhance individual and community wellbeing and welfare by following a path of economic development that safeguards the welfare of future generations;
    • to provide for equity within and between generations;
    • to protect biological diversity and maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems.
  • And it accepts the guiding principles of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development:
  • Decision making processes should effectively integrate both long- and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations.
  • Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
  • The global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered.
  • The need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognised.
  • The need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognised.
  • Cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms.
  • Decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them.

The goal is to protect biological diversity and maintain ecological processes and systems.


The following principles have been adopted as a basis for the Strategy's objectives and actions and should be used as a guide for implementation:

  1. Biological diversity is best conserved in-situ.
  2. Although all levels of government have clear responsibility, the cooperation of conservation groups, resource users, indigenous peoples, and the community in general is critical to the conservation of biological diversity.
  3. It is vital to anticipate, prevent and attack at source the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity.
  4. Processes for and decisions about the allocation and use of Australia's resources should be efficient, equitable and transparent.
  5. Lack of full knowledge should not be an excuse for postponing action to conserve biological diversity.
  6. The conservation of Australia's biological diversity is affected by international activities and requires actions extending beyond Australia's national jurisdiction.
  7. Australians operating beyond our national jurisdiction should respect the principles of conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological diversity and act in accordance with any relevant national or international laws.
  8. Central to the conservation of Australia's biological diversity is the establishment of a comprehensive, representative and adequate system of ecologically viable protected areas integrated with the sympathetic management of all other areas, including agricultural and other resource production systems.
  9. The close, traditional association of Australia's indigenous peoples with components of biological diversity should be recognised, as should the desirability of sharing equitably benefits arising from the innovative use of traditional knowledge of biological diversity.