The dire state of our environment is cause for alarm and action, Australia’s national environment group said on the release of the five-yearly State of the Environment report.

The report, released today by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, finds Australia’s natural environment is in poor condition and is deteriorating due to increasing pressure from climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction.

The report finds:

  • Many of the pressures outlined in previous reports – climate change, habitat destruction and invasive species – are becoming worse and creating cumulative impacts that amplify threats to species and ecosystems.
  • Our inability to adequately manage pressures will continue to result in extinctions and deteriorating ecosystem condition, reducing the environmental capital on which current and future generations of Australians depend.
  • Immediate action can turn things around.

Kelly O’Shanassy, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said:

“Much-loved Australian species like koalas, greater gliders and gang-gang cockatoos have recently been added to the endangered list and even Bogong moths, which were seen in their millions just a few years ago, are now in strife.

“Nature is under pressure like never before with wildlife habitat continuing to be destroyed – much of it through indiscriminate land clearing for farming, mining and housing estates.

“Climate change – in the form of heatwaves, bushfire infernos and mega floods – are taking a huge toll, as are invasive species, like feral cats, foxes, feral goats and deer.

“This report finds Australia now has more introduced plant species than native plant species.

“More Australian mammal species have gone extinct than on any other continent. We continue to have one of the highest rates of species decline among OECD countries.

“Of the 450 gigalitres of water for the environment promised under the Murray-Darling Basin plan, only 2 gigalitres have been delivered.

“Animals we all love, like the koala, are threatened because we keep destroying their homes. We’ve got to protect their habitat, not destroy it.

“To halt Australia’s nature crisis we need strong national environment laws, an independent regulator to enforce them and adequate funding for the recovery of Australia’s threatened species and the restoration of degraded landscapes.

“First Nations people have been caring for country for tens of thousands of years. This report confirms our environment is poorer because of the lack of Indigenous leadership, knowledge and management. We should prioritise Indigenous-led solutions to this crisis.

“As we are part of the global ecosystem, Australia also needs to champion ambitious international goals to halt and reverse biodiversity destruction, end extinction and protect at least 30% of land and seas by 2030.”

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