In Brief | Foreword

Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Australian State of the Environment Committee, Authors
(2011 Australian State of the Environment Committee), 2011

In Brief

This is a summary of Australia state of the environment 2011, which is an independent report presented to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities by the State of the Environment 2011 Committee

Foreword

The Australian environment is precious. Our ecosystems, biodiversity and heritage are vulnerable to the choices we make. At the same time, we depend on them for our survival and wellbeing. Our ecosystems, and the biodiversity they support, provide services that are fundamental to human life, such as regulation of the atmosphere, maintenance of soil fertility, food production, filtration of water and pest control. The major future drivers of change–climate change, population growth, economic development and associated consumption of natural resources, as well as the pressures that these drivers place on the environment–will need to be managed carefully if our society is to achieve a sustainable relationship with the Australian environment.

This document is a summary of a national assessment of Australia's environment, Australia state of the environment 2011.

The Australia state of the environment 2011 report was prepared by an independent committee using a range of best available information to support assessments of environmental condition, pressures, management effectiveness, resilience, risks and outlooks. The report is targeted at both decision-makers and the public, and was written to:

  • provide relevant, credible and useful information on environmental issues to decisionmakers and the public
  • increase awareness of environmental issues among decision-makers and the public
  • support evidence-based environmental management decisions that lead to more sustainable use and effective conservation of our environmental resources
  • identify ways in which the environmental evidence base could be strengthened.

In the report, the Australian environment is divided into nine themes representing biogeographic or conceptual aspects of the Australian environment. Each theme—atmosphere, inland water, land, marine environment, Antarctic environment, biodiversity, heritage, built environment and coasts—is assessed at a national scale following a similar approach. The main drivers of change in the Australian environment are also described and the report concludes with a discussion of opportunities and challenges associated with future reporting.

The report was presented to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities in December of 2011 and subsequently tabled in the Australian Parliament.

The full text of the Australia state of the environment 2011 report is available online, along with a range of additional material, at www.environment.gov.au/soe.

[signed]

Dr Tom Hatton
Chair

State of the Environment 2011 Committee
Members of the committee: Dr Steven Cork, Mr Peter Harper, Mr Robert Joy, Professor Peter Kanowski, Mr Richard Mackay, Dr Neil McKenzie, Dr Trevor Ward, Dr Barbara Wienecke (ex officio)