Media statement

Professor Bruce Thom
Chair, Australian State of the Environment Committee

Australia State of the Environment 2001 report

The release of SOE 2001 brings to a conclusion the work of a Committee which I was privileged to chair.

The report is guided by seven theme reports and has been produced in a format to ensure its accessibility and use by decision-makers at all levels of government, and the community.

SOE 2001 provides data and information on important environmental issues. It highlights the many challenges confronting all Australians at a range of scales from residential block, farm, catchment to bioregion.

Fundamental to improved sustainability of environmental and dependent economic and social systems is a recognition that we must take more steps individually and collectively to care for our country, to learn to adapt to forces driving environmental change, and to understand the interconnectedness of those forces and their impacts.

The Committee's overarching messages are:

  • Every single Australian has an impact on the environment and we are all responsible for its future.
  • Land and water degradation is of critical concern, together with associated loss of biodiversity and heritage values of the landscape.
  • Government intervention, particularly regulation, can be effective in protecting and managing Australia's environment and heritage.
  • Institutional arrangements are often a barrier to effective environment and heritage management.
  • All Australians have major challenges in the sustainable use of resources and in the maintenance of our natural and cultural heritage despite some areas of recent improvement.
  • Managing the activities of people in a way that conserves habitats while sustaining resources and industries is extraordinarily complex and difficult. This is no easy task.
  • Many indicators developed for SOE reporting at the national level could not be assessed in SOE 2001 as there were large data gaps and problems of consistency.

Bruce Thom:
Phone: 02 9337 1465 Sydney; 02 6274 2037 Canberra

SECRETARIAT:
The Secretary, Australian State of the Environment Committee
GPO Box 787, CANBERRA ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 2037 Fax: 02 6274 1336