A new international study published in the journal Nature found that Australia is among a group of seven countries who are causing around fifty percent of global biodiversity loss.
Using measures from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, the study calculated that Indonesia has the worst record, accounting for 21% of global biodiversity loss, with Australia coming in second. The other main offenders were Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, China, India, and the United States (largely due to Hawaii’s influence).
The study also showed that biodiversity loss has a direct relationship with government spending on conservation efforts (or lack thereof) as well as other ‘human development pressures’ such as economic, agricultural and population growth.
Between 1996 and 2008 the 109 countries who signed up to the Convention on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development Goals were able to reduce biodiversity loss by 29% per country through conservation investment.
In order to help policy makers decide how much to spend on conservation investment in order to reach specific conservation goals, the authors of the study have developed a model which predicts the effects of conservation investment when combined with varying levels of human development pressures.
“The model offers a flexible tool for balancing the Sustainable Development Goals of human development and maintaining biodiversity, by predicting the dynamic changes in conservation finance that will be needed as human development proceeds.”
In Australia, there are a number of pressures contributing to the the loss of biodiversity. According to Environmental sustainability professor Barry Brook from the University of Tasmania:
“The predominant one is land clearing ~ ongoing clearing for habitat. New South Wales and Queensland have been particularly bad for that over the past two decades,”
Given that the study also found that the effects of conservation funding are reduced as human development pressures increase, it is likely that conservation investment in Australia will not only need to ramp up in the short-term, but also increase over time to meet the increasing demands of agriculture and population growth.