8 Biodiversity | 6 Future risks to biodiversity | 6.1 Escalation of existing pressures
State of the Environment 2011 Committee. Australia state of the environment 2011.
Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011.
There is very little published analysis on which to base an assessment of the relative impacts of different pressures, or the ways in which their absolute or relative impacts might change in the future. The 2006 SoE report33 drew on an analysis of the numbers of times that different pressures were mentioned in the National Land and Water Resources Audit as an indicator of their relative importance. More recently, Burgman et al.88 analysed published data on the past, present and future threats to Australian plants and the severity of those threats. They concluded:
- land clearance is likely to continue to be a major pressure but of a lesser severity than in the past, while the edge effects of farms and farm activities, and grazing pressures from domestic, feral and native species are likely to increase.
- more species are likely to be threatened in the future by reductions in the numbers of populations, size of range and numbers of individuals.
- pressures from landscape-scale factors, especially weeds, fire, fragmentation of habitat, diseases and hydrology, are likely to dramatically increase in the future.
- management of human activities and needs that affect biodiversity is likely to become much more important (including managing road and rail verges, mining, forestry, collecting, trampling and recreation impacts).
Existing pressures on biodiversity from human energy needs could become even more significant if the availability of oil declines rapidly and the transition to alternative energy sources is not managed in an orderly fashion.212-214 An associated risk is that future development of biofuels and carbon sequestration technologies like biochar might move forward and require land conversion faster than research can be done to anticipate and manage their impacts on biodiversity.94