World Environment Day: Vets call for ecologically sustainable development

01 Jun 2021
Avian - Owl - Boobook

On World Environment Day 2021, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has highlighted the need for ecologically sustainable development where clearing of wildlife habitat is proposed, so as to minimise the animal welfare impacts on native wildlife.

With millions of native animals either killed or imperiled each year by the destruction or deterioration of their habitats, the AVA has ratified a new policy on Native Animal Welfare (Habitat Clearing), signifying the AVA’s dedication to supporting environmental protection, wildlife conservation and animal welfare.

“This new Native Animal Welfare policy is important as it recognises the threat of habitat clearing and advocates important steps to mitigate key issues. These include minimising the area of native vegetation impacted, assessing the biodiversity risks and considering codes of conduct to monitor and support animals displaced where possible,” said Dr Michael Banyard from the Australian Veterinary Conservation Biology special interest group of the AVA.

“This policy reinforces the AVA’s position as a key animal welfare advocate. Animal welfare legislation in a number of states also needs to be amended to ensure that exemptions from prosecution are replaced by a duty of care to ensure that native animals impacted by habitat clearing are given the same level of protection as other animals.”

Multiple member special interest groups of the AVA, along with the AVA Board were involved in developing the new policy, which highlights the valued role of the veterinary profession as a trusted and balanced voice in the community. World Environment Day 2021 calls for urgent action to revive our damaged ecosystems, as we all depend on healthy ecosystems for our survival.

“Many of Australia’s native animal habitats have been heavily impacted by human activity and the list of species under threat is increasing rapidly. Native animals depend solely on their environment for shelter, food and breeding security. Seemingly small impacts can have detrimental legacy effects over many years, which can set species on a trajectory to extinction.”

“Actions are urgently needed not only to protect native animals but also to support the environment on which all of humanity depends. This environmental protection is critical for the provision of ecosystem services like clean water, clean air, climate mitigation and minimising the threat of emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and Hendra virus,” said Dr Banyard.

With World Environment Day 2021 signalling the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, this Native Animal Welfare policy demonstrates the AVA’s commitment to healing our ailing planet.

#GenerationRestoration #WildlifeConservation #AustralianVeterinaryAssociation

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on 0439 628 898 or

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health, and welfare.