Australia is known around the world for having one of the most diverse, beautiful, and rugged natural environments found anywhere. Much is being done to protect Australia’s natural environment, but many challenges still remain. From the rugged beauty of the outback to the fragile ecosystem of the world’s longest coral reef, Australia has much to protect.
Reducing Trash Production
Australia has the dubious honor of being the second highest trash producer (per capita) in the world. The undesirable top spot goes to the United States, with Denmark, Switzerland, Canada lagging just a bit behind Australia. The government has implemented several programs to encourage reduction of waste production.
Like many countries, Australia is working to reduce its energy usage and its use of non-sustainable energy sources. There are many good guides on reducing electricity and energy usage available to help Australians. One interesting opportunity for improvement is insulation – as of 2011, nearly one-third of Australian homes lacked insulation.
Great Barrier Reef
Off the coast of Queensland you’ll find the great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world. The reef’s health has been in decline in recent years, with coral bleaching, overfishing, and infestations of crown-of-thorns starfish being leading concerns. The government and private organizations are working to counteract threats to the health of this critical reef system. For more information, visit the government page on Threats to the Reef.
Air pollution is an increasing health risk for living things in Australia, including humans. A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that “between 2005 and 2010, the number of deaths from air pollution in Australia jumped from 882 to 1483”. The government plan calls for reducing emissions by 5% by the year 2020.
Pollution of Australia’s waters includes agricultural runoff, plastic pieces in the water, oil leaks, and other sources. Recent studies show that plastic debris in the water is a serious concern for Australia (and other countries).
WWF lists deforestation, loss of original vegetation, and overgrazing as significant environmental problems facing Australia. One of the programs the government has implemented to combat these challenges is the 20 million trees program – an initiative to plant 20 million trees by the year 2020.
Thumbnail source: Outbj via Flickr