Environment of Australia


Environment of Australia

The Australian environment ranges from virtually pristine Antarctic territory, rainforests to degraded industrial areas of major cities.

Issues

Major environmental issues in Australia include whaling, logging of old growth forest, irrigation and its impact on the Murray River, Darling River and Macquarie Marshes, acid sulfate soils, soil salininty, deforestation, Soil erosion, Uranium mining and Nuclear waste, creation of marine reserves [http://www.nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=64&Itemid=602] , air quality in major cities and around polluting industries and infrastructure, pesticide and herbicide impacts and growing of genetically modified food.

Increased coal mining in Australia is contentious because of the effects of global warming on Australia, emissions to air from coal burning power stations, dust, subsidence, impact on rivers like the Hunter River and other water users, failure to adequately restore mined areas, and lack of sustainability.

Climate change and global warming are of particular concern because of the likely effects of global warming on agriculture, the Great Barrier Reef and tourism industry, human health through mosquito borne disease [http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/impacts/overview/pubs/overview37.pdf] . Sea level rise could also have a profound impact on coastal communities and waterfront suburbs. The range of rises forecast by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report would be sufficient to have impacts in many areas, and the impact if the Greenland ice cap melts faster than forecast could be disastrous.

In urban areas noise and odour are major sources of complaints to environmental protection authorities.

Protected areas

Land

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it covers a diverse range of habitats, from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests, and is recognised as a megadiverse country. Because of the great age and consequent low levels of fertility of the continent, its extremely variable weather patterns, and its long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota is unique and diverse. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds, and 89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemic. [cite web
url = http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/about-biodiversity.html
title = About Biodiversity
accessdate = 2007-09-18
publisher = Department of the Environment and Heritage
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070205015628/www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/about-biodiversity.html
archivedate = 2007-02-05015628
] Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced plant and animal species. The federal "Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999" is a legal framework for the protection of threatened species. Numerous protected areas have been created under the national Biodiversity Action Plan to protect and preserve unique ecosystems; 64 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention, and 16 World Heritage Sites have been established. Australia was ranked 13th in the world on the 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index.cite web | url = http://www.yale.edu/esi/b_countryprofiles.pdf | title = 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (pg.112)| publisher = Yale University| accessdate = 2007-05-20]

Most Australian woody plant species are evergreen and many are adapted to fire and drought, including many eucalyptus and acacias. Australia has a rich variety of endemic legume species that thrive in nutrient-poor soils because of their symbiosis with Rhizobia bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. Well-known Australian fauna include monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, wombat; and birds such as the emu and kookaburra. The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 BCE.Savolainen, P. et al. 2004. A detailed picture of the origin of the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA. "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America". 101:12387–12390 PMID ] Many plant and animal species became extinct soon after first human settlement, including the Australian megafauna; others have become extinct since European settlement, among them the Thylacine.cite web|url=http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/additional/persecution/image_6.htm|title=Additional Thylacine Topics: Persecution|publisher=The Thylacine Museum|date=2006|accessdaymonth=27 November |accessyear=2006] cite web|url=http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/ts-day/index.html|title=National Threatened Species Day|publisher=Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Government|date=2006|accessdaymonth=21 November |accessyear=2006]

Water

Australia is the second driest continent (after Antarctica), and frequent droughts have led to the introduction of water restrictions in all parts of Australia.

See also:
*"Water restrictions in Australia"
*"Drought in Australia"
*""

Air

Carbon dioxide emissions

Australia is the number one in world's per capita carbon dioxide emissions: [ [http://carma.org/region CARMA, Geographic Regions] ]

Tons of CO2 per year per capita:

*Australia: 10
*United States: 8.2
*United Kingdom: 3.2
*China: 1.8
*India: 0.5

State of the Environment reports

Commonwealth of Australia

[http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/1996/index.html 1996] [http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2001/index.html 2001] [http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/index.html 2006]

New South Wales

[http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/soe/soe2003/ 2003] [http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/soe/soe2006/ 2006]

Victoria

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory

Environment Organisations

* [http://www.acfonline.org.au/ Australian Conservation Foundation]
* [http://www.greenpeace.org/Australia Greenpeace Australia Pacific]
* [http://www.population.org.au/ Sustainable Population Australia]
* [http://www.ecomedia.org.au/ eco media]
* [http://www.envirotalk.com.au/ Envirotalk - Australia's Largest Environmental Discussion Forum]

See also

*Conservation in Australia
*Climate change in Australia
* List of wettest known tropical cyclones in Australia
*List of Australian environmental books

References

External links


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