MR: population growth drives biodiversity loss

31 August 2012

Media Releases 2012


Human activities are reducing genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity in Australia and population growth is a major driver, according to Sustainable Population Australia Inc. (SPA)

September is Biodiversity Month and its purpose is to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biological diversity in Australia and globally. Australia has between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many of which are endemic.

SPA’s national president, Ms Sandra Kanck, says that according to Australia – State of Environment Report 2011, in Australia ‘population size, geographic range and genetic diversity are decreasing in a wide range of species across all groups of plants, animals and other forms of life’.

Biodiversity has declined since European settlement, according to the Report.

“The Report also notes that these pressures from human activities are not being substantially reduced despite promising investment by all jurisdictions,” says Ms Kanck. “This is hardly surprising, since population growth has been as high as 2.1 per cent annually in recent years. Even though it has dropped to 1.4 per cent, it still means an extra 300,000 more people every year putting pressure on the Australian environment.

“The Report notes that many of the current risks to biodiversity relate to failures in management,” says Ms Kanck. “It says a major challenge is to understand the dependence of humans on ecological processes that are mediated by different elements of biodiversity; and to manage the size and distribution of our population…”

In May this year, koalas in Queensland and New South Wales were classified as vulnerable and added to the threatened species list. The Australia Koala Foundation has nominated the south-east Queensland population as critically endangered as there has been an 80 per cent decline in koalas in that region.

“Much of this loss can be attributed to loss of habitat from urban encroachment,” says Ms Kanck. “In the second most biologically diverse region of the continent, in north-east NSW and south-east Queensland, humans are taking over the entire hinterland between coast and the Great Divide. In addition, koalas are being killed by pet dogs and by cars.

“Human population growth has to stop. We have to leave room for other species,” she says.

Further information: Sandra Kanck ph. 08 8336 4114


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