Recognise environmental constraints on growth (FEB)

15 February 2009

Media Releases 2002

Feb 19, 2002

A population policy must recognise the environmental constraints of our land, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

National President of SPA, Dr Harry Cohen, said today that some of the organisers of the forthcoming Population Summit in Melbourne seemed unaware of these constraints when they called for a population of 50 million.

“The Australian Conservation Foundation and National Farmers Federation estimate the cost of repairing existing land degradation in this country is $65 billion over 10 years,” says Dr Cohen. “Add to that the potential for dryland salinity to increase to 15 million hectares. The effects on agriculture, rivers and wetlands will be catastrophic.”

Australia has already lost more mammal species than any other continent in recent times and continues to lose its biodiversity, largely through habitat destruction.

“The main drivers for biodiversity loss are population growth, personal consumption patterns and real estate development,” says Dr Cohen.

Two years ago, the Australia Institute warned that a policy of high population growth based on high immigration would see Australian greenhouse gas emissions increase twice as fast compared with a policy of zero net immigration. Australian emissions are already per capita the highest in the industrialised world.

“The Institute said at the time that those advocating 50 million for Australia clearly had not considered the impact that a high population policy would have on greenhouse gas emissions and on our international commitments,” said Dr Cohen.

“In 1995, the Australian Academy of Science working group also warned that, given the major unresolved ecological problems already created by the human population of Australia, it is essential that we adopt policies which minimise population growth,” concluded Dr Cohen.

Further information:

Dr Harry Cohen, Ph (w): 08 9381 9729 Ph (h): 08 9386 5268

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E:


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