Human population growth an ongoing threat on Threatened Species Day

7 September 2023

Media Releases 2023


Habitat loss and degradation is the greatest threat to native plants and animals in Australia, and human population growth is the underlying cause, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

SPA national president Jenny Goldie says Australia is facing an extinction crisis with 556 species on the national threatened fauna list and 1402 species on the national threatened flora list.

“Agriculture, mining, and urban sprawl have been the main causes of habitat loss and degradation,” says Ms Goldie. “Now we have worsening bushfire and floods caused by climate change, a direct result of humans burning fossil fuels.

“The more people there are, the more food, mineral resources and houses are needed. Greenhouse gas emissions tend to rise as human populations grow.

“Our most beloved icon, the koala, was declared an endangered species by the NSW Government in 2022. Koalas are threatened because the eucalypt trees on which they depend are being cut down. Loss or fragmentation of forest leaves the koala vulnerable to predation by dogs and being struck by vehicles, and stress makes them susceptible to disease.

“In Queensland, much of the koala’s habitat overlaps areas where people want to live. It is where significant clearing has already occurred, and continues to occur for human development, whether it be urban, industrial or rural development.”

Ms Goldie says the situation is likely to get worse as the Australian population grows.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that, in 2022, Australia’s population grew by nearly half a million, or 496,800, people. The growth rate was 1.9% compared to the OECD average of 0.4%.

“We cannot sustain such a high population growth rate and protect the habitats of other species at the same time. We already have the highest rate of mammalian extinctions in the world. Let’s rein in population growth and stop further extinctions,” says Ms Goldie.


Find out more about Threatened Species Day


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