“Of the eleven world regions highlighted as global deforestation fronts, eastern Australia is the only one in a developed country,” cites a statement signed by global scientists.
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At the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania conference in Brisbane this summer, more than 200 senior scientists from Australia and around the world signed a statement describing the rampant deforestation taking place across the continent and offering solutions on how to address this destruction.
According to the statement “Accelerating Forest, Woodland and Grassland Destruction in Australia,”
“The loss of habitat is among the greatest of threats to Australia’s unique threatened species, imperiling 60% of Australia’s more than 1,700 threatened species.”
This is because habitat disturbance negatively impacts the native plants and animals that depend on it, can introduce predators and invasive species and limits the mobility of wildlife since their ranges become fragmented. The statement cites an estimate that 100 million native birds, reptiles and mammals died as a result of habitat destruction in New South Wales between 1998 and 2005, and roughly 100 million native species were killed each year between 1997 and 1999 in Queensland.
While there are hopes of progress, such as the Australian Government’s commitment to plant 20 million trees by 2020, these actions are not sufficient; according to the statement, more than 20 million trees are cleared each year in Queensland alone. The scientists who wrote the statement offered recommended solutions that include identifying habitats that are of high conservation value for complete protection, restoring over-cleared landscapes, recognizing all biodiversity in policy decisions regarding the management of native vegetation, and using rigorous assessments when determining all potential impacts of land clearing requests.
In alignment with the call to action of identifying and protecting critical habitats, Rainforest Trust-Australia is currently working on two significant projects to combat the threat of deforestation: the expansion of both Daintree National Park and Barrine Park Nature Refuge. Various habitats make the Daintree one of the most complex rainforest ecosystems on Earth, and the growth of Barrine Park will provide a safe haven for many of Australia’s most iconic rainforest species, such as the Southern Cassowary.