Sydney | Australia’s unique flora and fauna are at greater risk than ever from bushfires, drought, human activity and global warming, according to a ‘shocking’ government report released on Tuesday.
The picture of damage painted by the scientific report is considerable. Since the start of the 20th century, Australia’s average land temperature has risen by 1.4°C due to global warming, accelerating the decline of flora and fauna.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek described it as a “shocking document”. “It tells a story of crisis and decline in the context of Australia,” he said.
According to the report’s key findings, the 2019-2020 bushfires burned more than eight million hectares of vegetation and killed or displaced 1-3 billion animals in the country.
Ocean heat waves in 2016, 2017 and 2020 caused massive bleaching of large coral reefs. Since then, a government report released in March found that the reef has again undergone massive bleaching.
Millions of hectares of virgin forests have also been destroyed since 1990.
Ditto for more than seven million hectares of habitat for endangered species between 2000 and 2017, the report continues.
In five years, more than 200 plant and animal species of national importance have been listed as endangered under Australian environmental laws.
“Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent,” the report says, with the number of new species listed as threatened increasing by 8% in five years.
Australian cities are also growing at a rapid pace, according to the report, leading to increased heat, pollution and urban waste, while putting pressure on water and energy resources.
“Sydney has lost more than 70% of its native vegetation,” the report asserts.
Australia is particularly affected by climate change, suffering from persistent droughts, devastating bushfires, not to mention repeated and increasingly severe floods.
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