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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Land

LAND AND PROGRESS

The land on which Australians live is essential for their wellbeing. It provides the foundation for animals and plants to flourish, with functioning ecosystems providing clean water, clean air and healthy soils as well as maintaining our unique biological diversity.

Altering land from its natural state almost always results in adverse affects on biodiversity, soil and water quality, and assists in the spread of weeds, feral pests and diseases. If persistent, these changes can lead to environmental problems and rapid deterioration of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, which can also have economic and social impacts (ABS 2010).

Australia's population continues to increase, both in numbers and in affluence, putting pressure on our land and its resources. In the last 200 years, vast areas of native vegetation which provide a protective cover for the land has been removed or degraded in many areas due to urbanisation, agriculture, mining, pastoralism and infrastructure development. Land may be cleared for many reasons, particularly agriculture and urban development. Land provides economic benefits through employment in industries such as agriculture, mining and tourism, while for some people it provides a place to get away and relax.

Ideally the headline indicator for land might consider the area of native vegetation cover in Australia, or the extent and intensity of land clearance and modification. However, few accurate time series data are available. As a result, there is currently no headline indicator for the land dimension that adequately summarises landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Supplementary progress indicators are presented which show the annual area of forest conversion and land recleared, and changes in native forest areas.

Further information has also been provided to show how we use our land and the effects that humans have had on the land, including plantation forests, dryland salinity, introduction of weeds and invasive species. Although the damaging consequences of most human activities are unintentional, they have the capacity to threaten the natural systems essential to life. There is increasing effort to improve management practices so that pressures on the land are reduced and declines in biodiversity, soil and water quality are reversed (DEWHA 2008).

For a full list of definitions, see the Land glossary.

RELATED PAGES

  • Land glossary
  • Land references
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