The review, which was completed in September last year but was not made public until Thursday, recommended that the impact on the agriculture sector be considered before a species is listed as threatened.
Announcing the inquiry in March 2018, Josh Frydenberg, the former minister for the environment, said he was concerned that environmental laws were placing too great a burden on farmers.
However, the review, chaired by former National Farmers’ Federation boss Wendy Craik, found that only 2.7 percent of cases included in environment laws affected agriculture.
It said that the relevant minister should receive advice on the extent to which protecting a species would affect agriculture and, if significant, options on how to reduce the social and economic impact of doing so.
The Craik report suggested the government introduce “market-based” incentives for farmers to protect the environment through a National Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NBCT) fund.
Under the proposal, the government would spend 1 billion Australian dollars over four years buying private land, compensating landholders if they suffer a “financial burden” due to an influx of protected species and helping farmers pay for environmental offsets.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said in a statement that the government has already acted on some recommendations of the review by committing 34 million Australian dollars (23.8 million U.S. dollars) to improve the department’s relationship with farmers.
“I believe strongly in the need to bring environmental, farming and business interests together to ensure that we are protecting our environment and our way of living,” she said.
Responding to the report, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said it was a “highly politicized” exercise and that the fact that only 2.7 percent of referrals under the environment act proved the sector was under-regulated.
“Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis. The review acknowledges biodiversity in Australia is in a poor condition and is getting worse yet, astonishingly, it overlooks the role of national law in protecting biodiversity,” ACF policy analyst James Trezise told the Guardian Australia.