The State of the Environment Report can be downloaded here. It is a very large file (118MB). There is also a summary (1.1MB).
CURRENT government spending has been unable to arrest Australia's alarming decline in native animal and plant populations, one of the biggest probes into our environmental health has found.
The 900-page State of the Environment report, released yesterday, has also concluded that global warming, population growth and economic development have become the main drivers of environmental impacts across the country.
In a mixed scorecard, the report, produced every five years, says available evidence suggests the population, range, and genetic diversity of a wide range of Australia's wildlife species is in decline.
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Despite ''promising'' government investment in measures to reduce the main pressures on biodiversity, such as revegetation and curtailing invasive species, they have not been substantially reduced and species decline isn't being reversed.
''While all jurisdictions have appropriate goals in high-level plans, these are often not matched with implementation plans or levels of resourcing capable of achieving the goals,'' the report says.
Since it was compiled, the government has committed an extra $950 million of carbon price revenue towards biodiversity.
The report also identifies unexpected declines in bird and mammal numbers in northern Australia - where land clearing and development pressures are less than the south - suggesting the trends might be worse than previously expected.
The head of the scientific panel behind the work, Dr Tom Hatton from CSIRO, told The Age there are still many parts of Australia in a good environmental state. But he identified coastal and semi-urban areas as increasingly facing the impact of rapid urban development and climate change. Dr Hatton said some positive signs were emerging that the link between economic and population growth and environmental damage could be reduced with innovation and improved efficiencies.
''Our per-capita water use is going down in the capital cities,'' Dr Hatton said, ''and there is some early evidence our landfill waste generation is slowing. So I'm hopeful we can decouple economic growth from the environment. Confident? Well that's another question.''
Environment Minister Tony Burke said yesterday: ''There's acknowledgment in the report that given the amount of degradation that's happened in some places, we're never going back to the original environment that was here 200 years ago. But we can get it to a much better state of health.''
Marine environments are in generally good condition. But there is substantial degradation in southern and eastern waters - including Victoria's seas - with ecosystems in bays and near coasts in generally poor health. Port Phillip Bay could be the marine ecosystem most invaded by foreign pests in the southern hemisphere.