Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world’s richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released by the government yesterday said.
Some animals such as the blue-tailed skink are now only known to exist in captivity, while the central rock-rat and Christmas Island flying fox are among mammals considered most at risk of extinction in the next 20 years, largely due to introduced predator species.
The sandalwood tree is also in decline.
The report, which comes after drought, bushfires and floods ravaged Australia over the past five years, said increasing temperatures, changing fire and rainfall trends, rising sea levels and ocean acidification were all having significant impacts that would persist.
“The State of the Environment Report is a shocking document — it tells a story of crisis and decline in Australia’s environment,” Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a statement, adding that the new Labor government would make the environment a priority.
New national parks and protected marine areas would be created, she said, to meet a target to protect 30% of Australia’s land and ocean waters by 2030.
The number of species added to the list of threatened species or in a higher category of risk grew on average by 8% from the previous report in 2016, with 533 animals and 1,385 plant species now listed.
Extinction Rebellion members protest outside the State Parliament of Victoria in Melbourne, yesterday.