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.
At a glance
Climate change, population growth and economic growth create a range of general pressures on Australia's heritage and some specific pressures on natural, Indigenous and historic heritage. Some of these pressures, such as those arising from our legacy of extensive land clearing, cannot readily be addressed through short-term management. Other pressures, such as rising temperature or changes to rainfall patterns or fire regimes, warrant responses even though the root cause cannot be removed. To understand the effects of pressures on our heritage resources, it is useful to distinguish between those that can be managed and those that cannot.
Climate change is leading to higher temperatures, more rainfall in northern Australia and less elsewhere, rising sea level, increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, more soil erosion, and additional damage and destruction from extreme weather events. These climate change—driven pressures have high impact and will irreversibly damage our heritage if unchecked.
Changes to our population can reduce resources for conservation in rural areas and create pressure for change and development in coastal and urban areas. Individual sites are also subject to neglect and vandalism or, conversely, damage from increased visitation.
Economic growth affects heritage through development projects that directly threaten heritage areas and sites, large-scale resource extraction or growing tourism associated with the heritage values themselves.
Pressures particular to natural heritage include the fast-growing number of invasive species, progressive loss of habitat, conflict in land use, and tension between the potential economic value of land and its dedication for conservation purposes.
Indigenous heritage in Australia is under pressure from loss of knowledge and tradition. This loss is manifest in social disconnection, extinction of language and discontinuation of cultural practices. Indigenous sites are also subject to an ongoing process of incremental destruction associated with urban and industrial development that is often approved despite the identification of heritage impacts.
Historic cultural heritage is particularly threatened by pressures for redevelopment on both large and small scales. The impacts range from complete destruction to inappropriate change and adverse effects on associated attributes such as visual setting. Other pressures include those that arise from population shift, including redundancy, neglect and decay.
In this section, pressures on Australian heritage are categorised and considered, firstly according to their major drivers: climate change, population growth and economic growth. Resource-specific pressures that relate particularly to natural, Indigenous or historic heritage are considered separately.
Search within SoE
SoE 2011 - Reader Survey
What do you think of SoE 2011? Please provide your feedback through the reader survey.
SoE 2011 - Reader Survey