A commonly used historical reference point for State of the Environment (SoE) and related assessments is the biodiversity understood to exist immediately before European settlement of Australia (approximately 1750). This reference point has been accepted as the basis for planning Australia’s National Reserve System and biodiversity conservation strategies. In this report, we consider, where possible, changes in biodiversity over the past 15 years (the period of the previous national SoE reports), but also reference current conditions to those thought to exist in 1750.
This chapter draws on information on biodiversity that is reported in other chapters and in research papers; summarises and synthesises assessments from state and territory SoE reports; and presents additional analyses. The Assessment of Australia’s terrestrial biodiversity 200815 is a key source.
Biodiversity indicators for national SoE reporting were developed in the first (1996) and subsequent reports. While these remain valid, the indicators used since 1996 have differed from report to report, due largely to the lack of information available. There is no standardised national set of biodiversity indicators, and different states and territories use different indicators. In this report, we have considered most of the indicators used in previous reports, and used that to inform the higher-level assessment summaries included in each section.