Common assessment method

At the time of the last comprehensive review of conservation status of wildlife in the Northern Territory (2012 review), all states and territories and the Australian Government had different systems for classifying threatened species.

Each jurisdiction typically only considered the status of a species within their borders, and often had different threat scales and/or categories.

This has changed.

Nearly all jurisdictions have signed up to a new Common Assessment Method (CAM), which is largely based on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories and criteria for listing.

Adoption of the CAM will standardise assessment and listing processes across Australia. For some jurisdictions this is a massive change that will result in major changes to their assessment and listing processes and has, or will, result in major changes to legislation.

In the NT, the legislative changes needed to incorporate the CAM are relatively minor due to previous alignment with the IUCN process. Adopting the CAM has implications on the way we assess species. Meaning that some adjustments to our threatened species list are required to fulfil our obligations to implementing the CAM. These changes will be implemented over the next two or three years.

The table below lists the major elements of the CAM and their implications for the NT. The majority of changes proposed in the current review of the NT threatened species list are the result of implementing the CAM.

Major elements of the CAM * Implications for NT assessment and listing *
Use IUCN categories, criteria and guidelines for the assessment of threatened status. IUCN categories and criteria are already used in the NT, but we will have to be aware of the stricter application of the criteria and standards of evidence.
The national list only deals with threatened species; other species are “not listed”. We will continue to use Near Threatened, Least Concern, Not Evaluated, and Data Deficient categories in the NT “Classification of Wildlife” to better characterise the status of non-threatened species.
Assessment is at the national scale, and a threatened species should be listed at the same level / category in all states and territories where it occurs (i.e. match the national listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBCA)). Previously, we have assessed the conservation status of species in the NT at the Territory scale. Several changes to the NT Threatened Species list are needed to align with the listing at the national scale. For NT endemic species (i.e., only occurring within the NT) these scales are the same, so no changes are required
One partial exception to the above is that species now extinct in a jurisdiction but extant elsewhere should show the national listing and be annotated to show that the species is locally extinct. Changes to the listing of extant species that are now extinct in the NT are needed on the NT Threatened Species list.
Isolated populations can be considered if the parent species is not nationally threatened. To be eligible for national listing, an isolated population must have characteristics that allow the individuals in it to be distinguished from all other members of the species (e.g. genetic, morphological or ecological differences). The current NT list includes several species that are not listed nationally. If the population in the NT is geographically isolated from populations in other states or territories, we are investigating whether distinguishing features exist, which may mean that they can be nominated nationally as an isolated population. If the population in the NT is not geographically isolated, or there are no distinguishing characteristics, and the species is not nationally threatened, it will be removed from the NT list.
Species endemic to a jurisdiction should be assessed by that jurisdiction and, if they meet the criteria for listing as a threatened species, should be nominated for national listing. The NT is going through a process of confirming the current eligibility of endemic species and nominating them for listing under the national EPBCA where appropriate.
The CAM includes one category that is not included in the IUCN guidelines. This is ‘Conservation Dependent’. It can only be applied to fish species that are commercially harvested under an effective national fisheries management program that maintains stocks of a taxon that would otherwise be considered a threatened species. There is only one nationally listed Conservation Dependent species in NT waters. Current NT legislation does not recognise a ‘Conservation Dependent’ category, so the current review does not propose any changes that use this new category.

Notes: * IUCN categories (threatened species are those in categories CR, EN and VU).

Last updated: 25 January 2021

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