Historic Content you are reading content from a previous reporting year.
To understand the state and trends of Australia’s environment, it is necessary to consider both the historical pressures that have had a profound impact on the environment, and the contemporary pressures that directly and indirectly influence the state of the environment. Historical changes to ecosystems and heritage places set the context for the current state of our environment, and—in many instances—their influences persist. For example, pressure on the environment from land clearing and fragmentation of habitat in Australia includes a legacy of extensive historical clearing. Since European settlement, some 13 per cent of native vegetation has been completely converted for land use, and a further 62 per cent is subject to varying degrees of disturbance.
Many of the contemporary pressures on the Australian environment have increased over time as the drivers of population change and economic activity have increased the demand for food, fibre, minerals, land, transport and energy, and have increased our waste generation.
The main pressures facing the Australian environment in 2016 are the same as those reported in SoE 2011: climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and invasive species. Land-use change, habitat fragmentation and invasive species are effects that have been accumulating during the past century or more. In comparison, pressures associated with climate change have only recently had a significant detectable impact.
Although some individual pressures have decreased, such as those associated with air quality, poor agricultural practices, commercial fishing, and oil and gas exploration and production in the marine environment, there is no indication that the major pressures outlined in SoE 2011 have decreased.
SoE 2016 describes a range of other pressures on the Australian environment, including altered fire regimes, overuse of species and habitats, ocean acidification, pollution in our coastal and marine environments, energy production, mining and agriculture. More detail on these pressures is available in the thematic reports.
An image depicting how overlapping, cumulative pressures amplify the threat to the environment. Examples are given for a coral reef and for agricultural land. For instance, extra sediment, climate change and human activities such as fishing and shipping form overlapping, cumulative pressures that can bleach corals and kill fish and reefs while encouraging the spread of invasive species.
Climate change is an increasingly important and pervasive pressure on all aspects of the Australian environment. Although our climate and its high natural variability from year to year have always been a major influence on the state of the Australian environment, strong evidence shows that the cl
Land clearing is a fundamental pressure on the environment. It causes the loss, fragmentation and degradation of native vegetation, and a variety of impacts on our soils (e.g. erosion and loss of nutrients), waterways and coastal regions (e.g. sedimentation and pollution).
Jackson WJ, Argent RM, Bax NJ, Bui E, Clark GF, Coleman S, Cresswell ID, Emmerson KM, Evans K, Hibberd MF, Johnston EL, Keywood MD, Klekociuk A, Mackay R, Metcalfe D, Murphy H, Rankin A, Smith DC, Wienecke B (2016). Overview: Pressures. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview/framework/pressures, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65510c633b
On this page
What is a framework?
The SoE framework is the underlying structure used across all themes to assess the environment. It builds on an internationally accepted framework for SoE reporting—the DPSIR (drivers-pressures-state-impact-response) framework but also includes discussions on resilience, emerging risks and environmental outlooks.
Australia State of the Environment 2016 has been prepared by independent experts using the best available information to support assessments of environmental condition, pressures, management effectiveness, resilience, risks and outlook.
This site is a major undertaking to improve the usability of SoE information. We are grateful for the support of users in our ongoing efforts to improve SoE reporting. Please report problems with the site via our feedback page.
We, the authors, acknowledge the traditional owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community; we pay respect to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.