Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits

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Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits


The Department acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.
© Copyright Commonwealth of Australia, 2016.

The Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits is licensed by the Commonwealth of Australia for use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Australia licence with the exception of the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Australia, the logo of the agency responsible for publishing the report, content supplied by third parties, and any images depicting people. For licence conditions see:

This report should be attributed as ‘Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits, Commonwealth of Australia 2016’.

The Commonwealth of Australia has made all reasonable efforts to identify content supplied by third parties.

The contents of this document have been compiled using a range of source materials and is valid as at September 2016.

While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication.


Introduction 5

Threat abatement plans 5

Review of the 2008 TAP 6

Involvement of stakeholders 6

Threat abatement plan for rabbits 7

The threat 7

Managing the threat 8

Objectives and actions 9

Objective 1 – Strategically manage rabbits at the landscape scale and suppress rabbit populations to densities below threshold levels in identified priority areas 9

Objective 2 – Improve knowledge and understanding of the impact of rabbits and their interactions with other species and ecological processes 13

Objective 3 – Improve the effectiveness of rabbit control programs 16

Objective 4 – Increase engagement of, and awareness by, the community of the impacts caused by rabbits, and the need for integrated control 20

Implementing the plan 28

References 29

Appendix A 31

EPBC Act listed species and ecological communities affected by rabbits 31


This Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits establishes a national framework to guide and coordinate Australia’s response to the impacts of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on biodiversity. It identifies the research, management and other actions needed to ensure the long-term survival of native species and ecological communities affected by competition and land degradation caused by rabbits. It builds on the achievements to date and replaces the previous threat abatement plan for rabbits published in 2008 (DEWHA 2008).

While this threat abatement plan aims primarily to abate the threat to key environmental assets (threatened species and ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and other matters of national environmental significance), it also recognises that rabbits have wider environmental impacts as well as social, cultural and economic impacts.

This plan should be read in conjunction with the publication Background document for the threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits (Department of the Environment and Energy 2016a). The background document provides information on:

  • rabbit characteristics, biology and distribution

  • impacts on environmental, economic, social and cultural values, and

  • current management practices and research.

Threat abatement plans

The EPBC Act provides for the identification and listing of key threatening processes. At the commencement of the EPBC Act, competition and land degradation by rabbits was listed as a key threatening process and a threat abatement plan was developed.

The Australian Government develops threat abatement plans with assistance from other Australian, state and territory government agencies, natural resource managers and scientific experts, and facilitates their implementation. To progress the main strategic actions within the threat abatement plan, the Department of the Environment and Energy relies on partnerships and co-investment with other government agencies, industry and other stakeholders. An important part of implementation of the threat abatement plan is ensuring that knowledge of improved abatement methods is disseminated to, and adopted by, potential users.

Mitigating the threat and impact of invasive species is a matter of developing, applying and integrating a number of control methods, not relying on one method. It also requires understanding and addressing social and economic factors; for example, through supporting the efforts of private landholders, leaseholders and volunteers to manage invasive species on their lands to achieve the desired outcomes for biodiversity conservation and primary production. In addition, research and development programs for managing pest species need to integrate the interests of both primary production and environmental conservation.

Regional natural resource management plans and site-based plans provide the best scale and context for developing operational plans to control invasive species. They allow primary production and environmental considerations to be jointly addressed and allow management to be integrated across the local priority vertebrate pests within the scope of other natural resource management priorities.

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