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  • Writer's pictureNhanta

Is Australia’s Environment in Decline?

With about almost half a million different native species, Australia is a land like no other. Australia is home to some of the most unique and magnificent flora and fauna in the world with vast grasslands, tropical rainforests, eucalypt forests and diverse woodlands that provide shelter to our most precious threatened species. Among them are the well known kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat.

The geographic isolation has meant that much of Australia’s flora and fauna is very different from species in other parts of the world with most not found anywhere else. Australia separated from Antarctica 50 million years ago. As it drifted away from the southern polar region, the climate became warmer and drier. New species of plants and animals evolved to dominate the landscape.

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Yet - sadly and disappointingly - there is another side to Australia today. We find ourselves in a period of immense change and challenge...all of which Australia is failing to address. From climate change, deforestation, and salinity, to widespread pollution and astounding rates of wildlife extinction, we have failed to take effective and comprehensive action.

Australia's unique environment is facing a severe crisis, with its flora and fauna threatened by a range of factors, including climate change, deforestation, pollution, and invasive species. Despite being home to some of the world's most iconic wildlife and landscapes, the country's environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate, posing a significant threat to the nation's biodiversity and ecological sustainability.

One of the most pressing environmental concerns in Australia is climate change. The country's average temperatures have increased by approximately one degree Celsius since the early 20th century, leading to more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, and bushfires as well as extreme rainfalls with widespread floodings. These extreme weather events have devastating effects on the country's ecosystems and wildlife, with many species struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate.

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's largest coral reefs and a major tourist attraction, is also under threat from climate change. The reef has suffered multiple coral bleaching events in recent years, which occur when the water temperature rises above a certain threshold, causing the coral to expel the symbiotic algae that provide it with nutrients and colour. If the bleaching continues, the reef could suffer irreparable damage, impacting the many species that rely on it for their survival.

Underwater world with corals and tropical fish - Adobe Stock by Brian_Kinney

Another major factor contributing to Australia's environmental deterioration is deforestation. The country has one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world, with large areas of native forests and woodlands cleared for agriculture, mining, and urban development. Deforestation not only destroys critical habitat for wildlife but also contributes to soil erosion, reduced water quality, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Invasive species are also a significant threat to Australia's environment. The country is home to many unique species of flora and fauna that have evolved in isolation over millions of years, making them highly vulnerable to introduced species. Invasive species, such as feral cats, foxes, and rabbits, prey on native animals and compete with them for food and habitat, leading to population declines and ecosystem disruption.

Water pollution is another issue affecting Australia's environment, particularly in its rivers and waterways. Agricultural run-off, mining activities, and urbanisation have all contributed to increased levels of pollutants, including nutrients, chemicals, and sediment, which have detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Furthermore, Australia's mining industry is having a significant impact on the environment. Mining activities, such as coal mining and fracking, release greenhouse gases, destroy habitats, and contribute to water pollution. The extraction and use of coal as a major source of energy also exacerbate climate change, with Australia being one of the world's largest exporters of coal.

A koala rescued from deforestation (Image via @ApesFinal) - Australia is world-leader in deforestation and species extinction

The Australian government has implemented various policies and initiatives to address these environmental concerns, but many believe they are not doing enough. The country's federal government has been criticised for its lack of action on climate change, with many arguing that it is not taking the issue seriously enough. The government has also been criticised for its support of the mining industry, which is seen by some as being prioritised over the protection of the environment.

In conclusion, Australia's environment is facing significant challenges, with climate change, deforestation, invasive species, water pollution, and mining activities all contributing to its deterioration. The impact of these environmental issues is far-reaching, with consequences for the country's unique wildlife, ecosystems, and ecological sustainability. While some progress has been made in addressing these challenges, more needs to be done to ensure the protection and preservation of Australia's environment for future generations. It is essential that the government, industry, and society work together to implement effective solutions to these environmental challenges, which threaten not only Australia's environment but also the health and well-being of its people.

WE SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD ANY FURTHER DELAY OF ACTIONS...our lives, those of future generations, our economies, societies and cultures depend on it...

How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew about this - and I did NOTHING ? - Sir David Attenborough



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