An independent review into the Federal government’s key environmental legislation has found it is not ‘fulfilling its objectives’ when it comes to the role of Indigenous Australians in protecting and conserving Australia’s environment.

The Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act is reviewed every ten years and a belated draft report, originally due last month, was released on Monday, June 20.

Overall, the report delivered a foreboding warning for the future of Australia’s biodiversity, with author Professor Graeme Samuel writing Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in a “state of decline” and on a trajectory that is “unsustainable.”

Australia’s environmental protection act is “ineffective” and not fit to address current or future environmental challenges, which are expected to become worse as climate change exacerbates existing pressures.

The report also found the EPBC Act was subject to a culture of “tokenism and symbolism” and failed to give value to Indigenous knowledge.

It also highlighted the failings of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act which contributed to “uncertainty” for traditional owners forced to rely on “last minute” intervention to protect culturally important sites.

The review delivered a range of key reform directions, including a comprehensive review of Indigenous cultural heritage protection, “equal footing” between Indigenous knowledge and western science and more decision-making roles for Traditional Owners in jointly-managed environment areas.  

The full review can be read here.