Australia’s environment is unique, with an exceptional number of species, and a high proportion of endemic species. The marine area is one of the world’s largest and home to the most diverse mangrove and seagrass ecosystems, and one of the largest areas of coral reef.
Environment provides information on people’s views and behaviour in relation to the environment. It notes the increase in household recycling during the 1990s. In 2000, nearly three-quarters of Australia’s workforce and students drove a vehicle on their journey to work or study - an unchanged proportion from that in 1996. Data are presented on the adoption of energy saving measures by households. The section concludes with information relating to household water supply, people’s view of drinking water quality, and water conservation methods adopted by households.
One of the major land degradation issues presently facing Australia is discussed in Salinity and land management. Air pollution is the greatest environmental issue concerning Australians. The section Air pollution examines both outdoor and indoor pollution, with a particular focus on ozone and fine particle pollution.
Australia experiences many of nature’s more extreme and destructive climatic phenomena, particularly droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, severe storms and bushfires. Severe drought conditions have been experienced throughout much of Australia recently. The section Drought focuses on rainfall deficiencies as the primary indicator of drought and provides rainfall information for the height of the drought, the period July 2002 to June 2003. The bushfires which occurred mainly at the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 were among the most protracted and extensive experienced since European settlement. The section Bushfires outlines the causes of bushfires and describes some of Australia’s most destructive fires over the years. It concludes with information relating to the 2002-03 bushfires and the damage resulting from them.
The Australian national accounts are sometimes criticised for including in the overall value of economic production in a given period, the value of goods and services produced and the income generated through the use of environmental assets but not reflecting the economic cost of depleting environmental assets or the damage that arises from economic activity. The section Environmental assets examines how the environment is treated in the Australian national accounts and provides experimental annual estimates whereby the accounts are adjusted for depletion of assets.