Major threats to wildlife not recognised in law

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Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Native species are under threat from logging and fire but they are not listed as key threats under federal laws, a top government adviser says.

Helene Marsh is the chair of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which advises the federal government on endangered species.

Part of that is managing key threatening processes, which are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

On Friday, Professor Marsh told senators of the brutal impacts the Black Summer fires had had on imperilled species, with the status of hundreds being reassessed.

"I estimate that when this work has finished, it will have catalysed the new or updated listing of more than 10 per cent of the species and ecological communities listed as threatened under commonwealth law," she said.

"And it will represent more than 20 per cent of the amendments to the lists since the EPBC Act came into effect (in the year 2000)."

Prof Marsh said fire was not yet listed as a key threatening process under the law, and nor was logging, but land clearing was broadly listed.

"In the context of the fires and the amount of forest lost, I'm wondering if you have made recommendations (to the federal government) around native forest logging," asked independent senator David Pocock.

Prof Marsh said the committee had not done that, but it had expressed concern about habitat loss generally as a key threatening process.

"Stopping logging is a political decision," she told a budget estimates hearing on Friday.

Prof Marsh said the committee did document the threat posed by logging to specific species as part of their assessment work.

"What would that assessment say when it comes to the kind of logging we're seeing. Is that putting species at risk?" Senator Pocock asked.

"Yes," she said.

This week the Victorian government announced it would end the commercial harvesting of native timber on January 1, six years earlier than the state government's original timeline.