In a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald, Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), commented on the latest national State of the Environment report.
She said that while there were some positive signs such as improvements to the Murray-Darling Basin through increased environmental flows, the “story is grim”.
The report points to inadequate funding and a lack of effective national coordinated action which has contributed to the current state of our environment. Federal government spending to protect and restore nature in Australia is at its lowest level in a decade and is expected to decline further. For every $100 of federal expenditure less than 5 cents reaches conservation programs.
She points out that while government spending on the environment is so small it is “preparing to spend $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to help build Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, which, ironically, will be a major source of pollution for decades to come.”
The ACF believes the government needs to increase funding for the environment by at least 400% “if it is to reverse the dramatic decline of Australia’s wildlife, reefs and forests.”
O’Shanassy points to the economic benefits that a healthy environment brings in sectors such as tourism and agricultural production.
“Nature in Australia is one of the key drawcards for international visitors, worth about $40 billion to the economy based on figures from Ecotourism Australia.”
“Healthy water catchments reduce nutrient loading, salinity and erosion. Healthy soils increase productivity through better water retention and nutrient cycling. Increased biodiversity improves native pollinators, which improve yields. Native species can play a critical role in natural pest control.”
In conclusion O’Shanassy called on political and business leaders to stand up on this issue.