Variations in climate, and changes in population size and composition around Australia's coasts have been major drivers of pressure on Australian coasts over the past decades, including both natural and built environments.
Using water from our environment is fundamental to our sustainability as a society. We have had an ambitious decade of water policy reform with all states and territories committing to the principles of the National Water Initiative.
The situation and outlook for the land environment are mixed. Although we have made progress in many aspects of managing Australia's land environment, the trends for many indicators of land environmental values remain adverse, and are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.
Australia's oceans and coastal marine ecosystems are overall in good condition and have experienced only gradual decline, although there are many local coastal areas where ecosystems are in poor or very poor condition as a result of local pressures.
Australia’s biodiversity is important both globally and nationally. It is important to the world because of its uniqueness and its global significance, and it is important to Australians for both moral and utilitarian reasons.
Australia’s marine environment extends from the landward limit of marine waters (which, in many places, is the high tide level) along the coastline of the continent and islands to the deepwater outer limit of the continental shelf
The Antarctic environment comprises diverse habitats and ecosystems that include ice-covered areas; ice-free vegetated areas; ice-free rocks; saltwater and freshwater lakes and streams; and the intertidal areas, mid-water, deepwater and benthic regions (the benthic zone is the ecological region a
The physical environment includes both the nonliving factors that characterise an ecosystem (e.g. weather patterns, ice coverage, atmosphere), and the processes that drive them (e.g. weathering of rocks, ozone depletion of the atmosphere).
An overarching Australian Government strategy—implemented via a range of policies, plans and programs—is essential if Australia is to succeed in mitigating climate change and addressing key areas of vulnerability through adaptation.
The seabed of Australia's marine jurisdiction is diverse and complex, reflecting the large area it covers and its span from the tropics to the Antarctic, with many coastal and offshore islands and their fringing geomorphic structures.
Human activities in Antarctica are very limited in comparison to other continents. There are no permanent populations living in Antarctica and neither industrial nor agricultural activities occur there.
The effectiveness of heritage management is determined by decision-makers understanding of the broader environmental and socioeconomic significance of heritage values and the current and emerging threats to those values.
Information about climate change and its likely impacts is the first requirement of good adaptation and mitigation policies. This requires strengthening of the climate-related research effort in Australia.
Urban environmental efficiency relates to how well the built environment encourages the efficient use of natural resources—in particular, land, energy and water—and the implications of the built environment for waste production and minimisation.
On a national scale, nutrients and suspended sediment loads are higher than before European settlement in more than 90% of the river lengths assessed, and are substantially modified in at least one-third of the river lengths that were assessed in every drainage division, except Tasmania.
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.
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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.