Australian species and habitats have been shaped by natural drivers of change, and have been influenced by Indigenous management of land, water and sea for tens of thousands of years. More recently, European settlement in Australia has driven several changes to our environment. Some of these changes are historical legacies that continue to shape our environment today. Other changes are caused by contemporary human-caused drivers that generate pressures on the environment. The key contemporary drivers of Australian environmental change considered in state of the environment (SoE) 2016 are population (demographic change) and economic activity. These drivers are the same as indirect drivers identified in SoE 2011.

Understanding the scale (size and growth) and intensity (level of influence) of legacy impacts and contemporary drivers of environmental change is fundamental to ecologically sustainable development.

Jackson WJ (2016). Drivers: Australia’s environment is shaped by both legacy impacts and contemporary drivers. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/key-finding/drivers/australias-environment-shaped-both-legacy-impacts-and-contemporary-drivers, DOI 10.4226/94/58b659517ce65