The State of Decline
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Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent in the past two centuries and continues to have one of the highest rates of species decline among developed countries, the latest State of the Environment report found.
That’s because the country’s unique wildlife has faced increased threats from wildfires, droughts and climate change, the report said. More than 19 Australian ecosystems are showing signs of collapse or near-collapse: There are more foreign plant species than native ones on the continent, while marine heatwaves have caused mass coral bleachings.
The findings showed that Australian cities are growing at an exponential rate than other metropolitan areas worldwide, which has resulted in increased urban heat, waste and pollution.
For example, Sydney has lost more than 70 percent of native vegetation cover through development.
The government-commissioned report was originally completed last year, but it was held back by the previous administration of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. Morrison’s conservative Coalition lost power after the May election.
The alarming findings come as Australia has experienced abnormal weather phenomena in recent years, including the 2019-2020 devastating wildfires that are estimated to have killed or displaced one to three billion animals.
In February, the iconic koala was officially moved from threatened to endangered status along Australia’s east coast.
At the same time, a number of significant floods have recently ravaged the nation, prompting concerns about how to get Australians prepared for life in areas where “once in a century” floods are now frequent.
Meanwhile, the center-left Labor government is under pressure from the Greens and other lawmakers to pass legislation that would target a 43 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.