Wildlife, Biosecurity and the Law
Australia has a range of federal, and state and territory environment laws that regulate the movement of animals, plants, and their by-products. At a national level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) regulates movements of animals, plants, and by-products to and from Australia. This Act helps to protect the environment from international wildlife movement risks and is how Australia meets its obligations under CITES, the international agreement to regulate wildlife trade between countries. Another example of national laws designed to safeguard Australia’s environment and economy is the Biosecurity Act 2015, regulating the movement of animals, plants, and by-products to Australia.
Australia’s state and territory governments also have a range of laws designed to keep wildlife within their borders. They also regulate the import and export of wildlife across their borders.
- Begin the lesson by writing the words ‘flora’ and ‘fauna’ on the board. Ask the class for suggested definitions. If correct, write them on the board. If students are unsure provide them with the following:
- flora – the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.
- fauna – the animals of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.
- Ask students why we need laws at international, national, and state and territory level to regulate movement of animals, plants, and their by-products. Remind students about the role of CITES at international level. Ask them to review the CITES brochure in pairs and write a paragraph explaining what the role of the Agreement is and why some wildlife trade is legal, and some is not.
- Explain that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is a national law that assists Australia to meet its obligations under CITES. Show the video EPBC Act and then discuss why wildlife trafficking would be part of this Act.
- Conduct an anticipation exercise exploring what may be legal or illegal under the EPBC Act. Provide each pair of students with a copy of the Anticipation exercise: True or False and ask them to work through the statements deciding whether they are true or false. Once completed open the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s Wildlife trade frequently asked questions website to check the correct answers. Discuss how accurate students were with their predications and what knowledge they used to select their answers.
- Explain that each Australian state and territory also has a range of laws that regulate the movement of animals and plants between their borders. Continue with the same student pairs and provide each with a copy of the Compare and Contrast activity. Ask students to explore their particular state or territory legislation via the links provided and complete the Venn diagram to compare and contrast their purpose with the aims of the EPBC Act. Once completed, discuss as a group. (It is important to clarify that there may be little difference between the two in general terms – the differences will relate to specific flora [the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period] and fauna [the animals of a particular region, habitat, or geological period] and borders.)
- Refer back to section 303EK of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth),that prohibits a person from importing a specimen if the specimen is a regulated live specimen. Any breach of this law attracts a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of AU$220,000. Ask students to design a public awareness poster that explains the importance to their State or Territory of biosecurity and combating wildlife trafficking (including the penalties). There are a range of education applications that can be used to create these posters such as Befunky and Glogster.
- Conclude the lesson by asking students to think about their Compare and Contrast activity. Instruct them to use this information to write an individual paragraph in response to the question: “In your opinion, does the EPBC Act or your State or Territory have the most effective laws to protect wildlife and why?” Take a class poll based on their responses and ask for volunteers to explain their choice.