MR: human population growth threatens other species with extinction

9 July 2013

Media Releases 2013

Growing human populations crowd out other species, threatening many with extinction, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed 96 animal species as critically endangered in Australia alone. Endangered mammals include the brush-tailed bettong, mountain pygmy possum and northern hairy-nosed wombat. Critically endangered birds include the Christmas Island frigate bird and the orange-bellied parrot.

National President of SPA, Ms Jenny Goldie, says that urban expansion and agricultural development have encroached on and often destroyed other species’ habitats.

“Australia’s population growth rate in 2012 climbed from 1.4 per cent a year to 1.8 per cent,” says Ms Goldie. “That is nearly 400,000 extra people every year who have to be housed and fed. Although Australia is large, it has biological hotspots where humans also like to live, not least north eastern New South Wales and south eastern Queensland, home to the iconic koala.”

While human density has long been connected with threatened species, new research by Ohio State University has confirmed that ongoing growth in the human population has the potential to threaten hundreds of species with extinction within 40 years.1

Professor Jeffrey McKee, the study’s lead author and author of the book Sparing Nature: The conflict between human population growth and Earth’s biodiversity, says “You can do all the conservation in the world that you want, but it’s going to be for naught if we don’t keep the human population in check.”

Another recent study2 of human activity, mainly through deforestation and poaching, has led to a decline in the Sumatran tiger population and is pushing it towards extinction.Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453 “Threatened predator on the equator: multi-point abundance estimates of the tiger Panthera tigris in central Sumatra,” April 2013, Oryx–The International Journal of Conservation.

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