Australia has a poor record on extinction; more than 100 species of plants and animals are documented has having become extinct over the last 200 years, including a number of mammal species. There are also likely to be many undocumented cases, particularly involving invertebrates. There are now several hundred species of plants and animals threatened with extinction. Moreover many of our habitats including grasslands and wetlands are threatened by encroaching development, invasive species and climate change. Once habitats are lost, entire communities of plants and animals are likely to disappear. This loss of biodiversity threatens the uniqueness of our environment as well as its natural processes.
To reduce extinction risks and protect habitats, a national reserve system has been established, which gives various levels of protection to threatened habitats. Recovery programs have been established for some of our most threatened species. However, these programs have had limited success due to predation from exotic animals or competition from invasive weeds. Moreover threatened populations have often lost genetic resilience, due to existing for many years at a very low population size; this makes long term recovery difficult unless populations are carefully managed over long periods of time. Climate change creates additional challenges for recovery programs, because protected habitats may become unsuitable for species after they have been restored to the wild.