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Australia’s Natural Environment: A Warning for the World

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Sustainability and the New Economics

Abstract

The immense size, varied land systems, different climatic regimes, and great antiquity of the Australian landmass have fostered the development of an extraordinarily rich and endemic biota. Yet, despite the importance of this unique natural heritage, evidence is mounting that Australia’s living systems are under increasing assault. On land, the major threats faced by the biota include land clearing and fragmentation, pressures from livestock production, pest species and pathogens, consumption and extraction of natural resources, altered fire regimes, climate change and climate variability, and interactions between these drivers. Equivalent pressures face the biota of aquatic environments, with climate change interacting with other threats to produce poor prognoses for the future of freshwater resources and major marine ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. Despite the success of some conservation programs, the varied threats to Australia’s fragile environment are exacerbated by the demands of the nation’s burgeoning human population and the generally apathetic response of government to the manifest problems. We suggest that the Australian environment can be seen as a ‘canary in the climate coal mine’—an early herald of global environmental decline—and that more recognition of the problems, more courage, more resources and stronger laws will be crucial if any semblance of ecological sustainability is to be achieved.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The Environmental Defenders Office, now a national registered charity with state branches, receives some funding from state governments while relying on donations.

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Correspondence to Chris R. Dickman .

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Dickman, C.R., Lindenmayer, D.B. (2022). Australia’s Natural Environment: A Warning for the World. In: Williams, S.J., Taylor, R. (eds) Sustainability and the New Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-78795-0_3

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