Think deforestation and Australia doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Maybe it should. According to the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania conference in Brisbane held in the summer, eleven regions of the world have been highlighted as in the most danger from deforestation. And eastern Australia is the only one in a developed country.
Rampant destruction and deforestation must be stopped
At the conference more than 200 senior scientists from Australia and beyond signed a statement ‘describing the rampant deforestation taking place across the continent and offering solutions’. It looks like fast-accelerating destruction of the nation’s forest, woodland and grassland is one of the biggest threats to the county’s unique wildlife, putting 60% of Australia’s 1700 or more endangered species at risk.
100 million native creatures lost in Queensland alone
Habitat disturbance sits at the heart of the problem, introducing predators and invasive species, and restricting the mobility of native species. Around 100 million native birds, reptiles and mammals perished between 1998 and 2005 thanks to habitat destruction in New South Wales and 100 million more in Queensland between 1997 and 1999.
Planting replacement trees just isn’t good enough
On the bright side, the nation’s government has promised to plant 20 million trees by 2020. On the downside, it just isn’t enough. Over 20 million trees are cleared in Queensland alone every year.
The scientists at the conference recommended ‘completely’ protecting habitats with high conservation value, restoring cleared landscapes, recognising biodiversity in every policy decision, and assessing the impact of every single land clearing request in fine detail. All of which illustrates just how far the problem has already been allowed to go.