A new study shows that 19 ecosystems in Australia are showing signs of collapse or are on the verge of collapse. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent since white settlement began more than 200 years ago.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek was visibly moved when she spoke to the media in Canberra on Tuesday. The latest five-year report by a group of 30 experts on the state of Australia’s environment is a “horrific document”.
The report blames mining, deforestation, invasive plant and animal species, and climate change as the main contributors to a variety of environmental problems facing the fifth continent.
The number of endangered species is increasing
According to scientists, the number of endangered species has increased by eight percent in the past five years alone. The impact of climate change on many ecosystems, both on land and at sea, has increased dramatically in some cases. According to the researchers, the situation has deteriorated practically in all ecosystems in recent years.
Mammalian evolution is particularly exciting. Australia holds the sad record among continents, having lost 39 of about 400 species of mammals in just over 200 years since colonization began in 1788.
Koala suffers from deforestation
Perhaps the most famous koala in Australia, like many others, suffers from the destruction of its habitat. According to environmental groups, the rate of deforestation in Australia is similar to that of the Amazon. Between 2000 and 2017, about 7.7 million hectares of forest were cleared, often illegally, the report wrote. Perpetrators usually go unpunished.
While most of the land in the tropical north of the continent is used for cattle breeding, koalas’ habitats in the south fall victim to urban sprawl. Small mammals and birds in particular are eaten by introduced pests, especially foxes and feral domestic cats.
Since the last study in 2016, another 17 mammal species, 19 amphibian species, and 17 bird species have been added to the endangered species list or even considered critically endangered. The koala is now considered endangered.
Climate change is exacerbating the situation
The consequences of climate change have greatly exacerbated the situation. According to the researchers, the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events change. Over the past five years, extreme events such as floods, droughts, bushfires, storms and heat waves have affected all parts of Australia. Seasonal fire periods are getting longer and longer, now lasting up to eight months.
Experts have been calling for years that Australia, as the main exporter of coal, should stop mining raw materials that have been shown to be harmful to the climate if the world is to get global temperatures under control.
Political calculus at the expense of the environment
Bleibersk blamed “more than a decade of inaction and willful ignorance” by the previous government headed by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the escalation. Morrison had obtained the report last year but had blocked it from publishing before the last election.
According to analysts, the conservative climate skeptical stance and their focus on further exploitation of fossil resources contributed to the government’s loss of power to the Social Democratic Labor Party at the end of May. Shortly after taking office, new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese increased Australia’s climate protection goal.
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