Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report)
Prepared by: Ann Hamblin, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Authors
Published by CSIRO on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
ISBN 0 643 06748 5
The word 'land' carries strong emotional overtones. Land is territory; it is what peoples and nations have always fought for. We have only to consider places such as the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosovo, Eritrea, Bougainville and Fiji, to remember that many of the world's troubled areas today are the result of fights for land and identity.
Land means food, security, wealth and power-but even more, land defines a society, providing a tangible evidence of its physical self. Small or large, high mountains or sweeping plains, girt by sea or ringed by other nations, all societies have a powerful need to feel that sense of place that is so poignantly expressed in cultural outpourings of song, poems, pictures and fables of their culture (Sharma 1995).
At the end of its first century of Federation, Australia is in the process of redefining its cultural identity through changing attitudes to land and landscapes (Hamblin 2000).
The 1996 State of the Environment Report adopted the pressure-state-response framework against which each topic could be reported. The same framework is followed here, but the 2001 report has also drawn on the development of environmental indicators.
The pressure-condition-response-implications (PCRI) model is presented in this report using the land indicators developed by Hamblin (1998) as the basis for examining the six major issues for Australian land ecosystems. These issues are:
- accelerated erosion and loss of surface soil,
- physical changes to natural habitats,
- introduction of novel biota into native habitats and communities,
- secondary salinity and acidity of soil,
- soil nutrient and carbon cycling, and
- soil and land pollution.