Conservation in Australia
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|Wildlife of Australia|
Conservation in Australia is an issue of state and federal policy. Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, with a large portion of species endemic to Australia. Preserving this wealth of biodiversity is important for future generations.
Animal habitats like reefs and forests must be preserved in order to preserve population and diversity of animal species. Conservation is vital for future study and for field research to be undertaken, and because biological richness is an unmeasurable aesthetic that may be developed into commercial recreational attractions.
According to Janine Benyus, the potential for advances in biomimicry in Australia are great because the extreme weather and conditions found here provide an excellent evolutionary incubator. Research on natural processes can only occur if habitat is preserved and organisms continue to thrive.
A key conservation issue is the preservation of biodiversity, especially by protecting the remaining rainforests. The destruction of habitat by human activities, including land clearing, remains the major cause of biodiversity loss in Australia. The importance of the Australian rainforests to the conservation movement is very high. Australia is the only western country to have large areas of rainforest intact. Forests provide timber, drugs, and food and should be managed to maximize the possible uses. Currently, there are a number of environmental movements and campaigners advocating for action on saving the environment, one such campaign is the Big Switch.
Land management issues including clearance of native vegetation, reafforestation of once-cleared areas, control of exotic weeds and pests, expansion of dryland salinity, and changed fire regimes. Intensification of resource use in sectors such as forestry, fisheries, and agriculture are widely reported to contribute to biodiversity loss in Australia. Coastal and marine environments also have reduced biodiversity from reduced water quality caused by pollution and sediments arising from human settlements and agriculture. In central New South Wales where there are large plains of grassland, problems have risen from—unusual to say—lack of land clearing.
Before European settlement, Aborigines burnt the grassland regularly for thousands of years and eventually native animals became dependent on the grasslands and the regular burning. When Europeans settled the area in the early 19th century, their ignorance lead to the destruction of the grassland through lack of regular burning. Thus the grasslands were swallowed up by woody weeds and shrub, degrading the soil, accelerating erosion and reducing the biodiversity.
- Blue Gum Forest
- Fraser Island
- Franklin Dam
- Lake Pedder
- Uranium mining in Kakadu National Park
- Plight of the Murray River system
Conservation of the natural environment in Australia is derived from five different sources of law, namely international law, federal law, State law and local government law as well as the application of the common law.
International environmental law
International agreements that affect conservation policy in Australia.
|Entry in force||Title, date, place of agreement|
|1948||International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, 1946, Washington|
|1961||Antarctic Treaty, 1959, Washington|
|1975||Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, 1971, Ramsar|
|1975||Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972, Paris|
|1975||Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 1973, Washington|
|1982||Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, 1980, Canberra|
|1983||Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, 1979, Bonn|
|1985||International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983, Geneva|
|1993||Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992, Rio de Janeiro, leading to Australia's Biodiversity Action Plan|
|1993||United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, 1994, Paris|
|1994||United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, Montego Bay|
|1994||United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992, New York|
The primary federal law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), usually referred to as the EPBC Act.
There are numerous protected areas in all States and Territories that have been created to protect and preserve Australia's unique ecosystems. Protected areas include national parks and other reserves, as well as 64 wetlands which are registered under the Ramsar Convention and 16 World Heritage Sites. As of 2002[update], 10.8% (774,619.51 km²) of the total land area of Australia is within a protected area. Protected marine zones have been created in many areas to preserve marine biodiversity; as of 2002 they cover about 7% (646,000 km²) of Australia's marine jurisdiction.
Protected areas of include those managed by the federal Department of the Environment and Heritage, and national parks and other protected areas managed by the states, Agencies responsible for protected areas include:
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
- New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change
- Parks Victoria
- Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
- Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
- Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia)
- Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service
- Chief Minister's Department (Australian Capital Territory)
- Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory
A number of governmental and nongovernmental organizations work in conservation and restoration of the Australian environment.
- Our Rainforests and the issues by Beryl Morris, Tondy Sadler and Graham N. Harrington. 1992. CSIRO. ISBN 0-643-05141-4
- The Big Switch
- Department of the Environment and Heritage. 2002. Summary of Terrestrial Protected Areas in Australia by Type
- Department of the Environment and Heritage. 2002. About the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA)