The Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Nature Conservancy have announced the creation of the Wild Australia Program, a three-year, $12.4 million (A$14 million) effort to conserve Australia's bush, desert, and ocean habitats.
According to Dr. Barry Traill, who will lead the Queensland-based project, one of the program's goals is to get more people actively involved by working with conservation and community groups, indigenous and private land holders, farmers, businesses, and governments to achieve on-the-ground results. Traill also said that currently threatened habitats need to be managed if they are to continue to thrive. For instance, populations of many native birds and mammals are declining in remote areas of northern Australia, where habitat is being degraded by climate change, poor fire management, weeds, and feral animals.
While the Nature Conservancy has worked with and provided funding for Australian nongovernmental organizations on science-based conservation projects since 1999, the new project is Pew's first major commitment to conservation work in the country. "Australia's wilderness sits alongside the Amazon forest, Canada's boreal forests, the Antarctic, and the Sahara deserts as one of the 'big five' large wild areas remaining on earth," said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. "After looking worldwide to see where we could have the most impact for wilderness conservation, we agreed that Australia offered some of the greatest opportunities."