Natural disturbances are part of life in Antarctic ecosystems, and the native species can generally survive shock events because they have evolved strategies that allow their populations to rebuild after mass mortalities.
Because climate-related and weather-related risks have always been present, governments and private parties have fairly well established institutional, governance and policy frameworks to build resilience in our built environment.
Understanding of the state of biodiversity in Australia is improving for a small number of taxa, although our knowledge is inadequate because limited information is available for the vast majority of taxa, and few long-term monitoring programs are in place.
The physical and chemical components of the Antarctic environment are changing in response to global pressures of human activity and climate change. These changes are occurring against a backdrop of climatic variability.
The changes to Australia’s climate arising from global climate change include increased average surface air temperature, increased incidence of heatwaves, decreased average rainfall in parts of the country, an increase in drought frequency and severity, sea level rise, more extreme daily rainfall
The impacts of human land use are spread unevenly across the country. Vegetation clearing is concentrated in the long-settled agricultural and coastal zones, where more than 50 per cent of native vegetation has typically been cleared.
Australia’s marine environment encompasses the seabed; the water column; physical, biogeochemical and ecological processes that play an important role in shaping the marine environment; and habitats, communities and species groups, which all interact in highly complex ways.
Ozone is a secondary pollutant formed through the interaction of VOCs (see ‘Volatile organic compounds’) and nitrogen oxides (NOx; see ‘Nitrogen dioxide’). The AQI for ozone in all capital cities was deemed ‘good’ from 1999 to 2008, and remained steady during this time.
The adequacy of planning for heritage management can be assessed by considering the policies and plans in place that result in management actions to address major pressures and risks to heritage values.
Pollution issues affecting biodiversity in Australia can generally be categorised as relatively local in nature (e.g. specific waste streams from poorly managed activities or legacy sources in groundwater, such as plumes under industrial sites) or relating to broad landscape
Pollutants occur as gases (e.g. carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde) and PM. In air pollution, PM refers to solid and liquid particles suspended in air, and the PM and air mixture is referred to as aerosol.
Each person added to our population creates additional demand on natural resources to provide materials for shelter, energy and sustenance. However, it cannot be assumed that an increase in population leads to greater stress on the environment.
Australia’s population is projected to grow to nearly 40 million by 2055 (ABS 2016). This increase will be concentrated in our capital cities. Population growth will affect all aspects of the environment, including heritage.
The coast has many qualities that make it attractive for living, including economic, social, recreational and cultural benefits. Human populations have been growing in Australian coastal areas since European colonisation, and this growth has not slowed since 2011.
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.