Australia has lost more mammal species to extinction than any other continent: Report

The state and trend of Australia’s environment has been rated “poor and degraded” in a debiting new government report, with findings revealing that the country has lost more mammal species to extinction than any other continent in the world.

The State of the Environment report – which is done every five years and published on Tuesday – shows that climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction, as well as a lack of solid environmental management frameworks, have led to the collapse of close to 20 ecosystems.

The increase in temperatures due to human-induced climate change is particularly attributable to the loss.

The report concluded that changes in rainfall patterns and the intensity and frequency of wildfires and heat waves profoundly affected all aspects of the environment. The country’s climate has warmed by about 1.5 degrees since records began, and the decade from 2011 to 2022 was the warmest on record.

Recent bushfires in 2019 and 2021 helped move koalas from a “vulnerable” status to an “endangered” state.

Another 200 plant and animal species have joined the list of threatened in the half decade since the previous report was published.

“Climate change continues and increases the impacts of other pressures on our environment,” the report said, adding: “Immediate global action to reduce carbon emissions will reduce pressures and improve pathways for most aspects of our environment.”

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the newly elected Labor government would respond to the report’s calls to prioritize environmental protection, reaffirming the party’s goals to reduce emissions and protect national parks and marine areas.“Australia’s environment is bad and getting worse, and much of the devastation shown in the report will take years. It could take the next three years. Legislating strong action on climate change is a great start,” Plebirsk said in a National Press Club address held to discuss the findings.

Plibersek has promised a “radical reform of national environmental laws” and that Australia’s national ownership will be expanded to ensure 30% of all land and sea are protected by 2030. Meanwhile, just under $230 million has been pledged to the Threatened Species Program.

However, the report says more than $1.5 billion is needed annually to ensure the survival of the threatened plants and animals.

Environmentalists across the country praised the report for its clear recommendations to Australia’s leaders.

These include Australian Academy of Sciences President Shinopati Jagadish, who supports the report’s call for national leadership to help “promote coordinated action and encourage investment” to tackle the country’s “escalating” climate issues.

“Australia must reconsider its commitments to reduce emissions and work with other countries to provide the leadership and cooperation needed to put Australia and the world on a safer climate path,” Jagdish wrote in a statement.

Other recommendations include additional collaboration with indigenous forest rangers and better data coordination.

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