The State of the Environment Report released this month is shocking.
Because of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, unsustainable development and resource extraction, invasive species, and pollution, the environment is deteriorating, still.
The intensity, frequency and distribution of extreme weather-related events are impacting the environment, exacerbated by habitat fragmentation, poor land management practices and invasive species – all of it demonstrably impacting our environment, ecosystems, society and our wellbeing.
Landscapes, biodiversity, air, coast, and seas are all facing new pressures
Intense competition for land resources in Australia has resulted in contiunued declines in the amount and condition of our land-based natural capital – native vegetation, soil and biodiversity. This means that the overall state of Australia’s land and soil is poor.
Many parts of Australia are highly degraded, and native vegetation has been extensively cleared. The widespread reduction in capacity of native vegetation to support Australia’s unique biodiversity is exacerbated by declining habitat quality, climate change and the prevalence of invasive species. It can take many decades for ecosystems to fully recover.
Australian landscapes have a key role to play in carbon storage, above the ground in vegetation and below the ground sequestered in soils. While nationally there has been a slight decline in primary forest clearing from very high past levels, the amount of regrowth forest reclearing has remained high. Healthy soils and functioning ecosystems represent a significant oportunity for sequestering and storing carbon.
It’s a sobering and alarming read but State of the Environment reports have been saying this with increasing urgency for decades.
What will it take?
A massive change in thinking and practice, governments that pay more than lip service to the environment, corporations that take more seriously their obligations, more citizens demanding change and changing their own practices.
Protecting what is left of natural habitat and recovery of landscapes with indigenous species – a task that is much more difficult than conserving what remains.
See here for our platform on the environment