Which Australian forests have the most protection?
A group of researchers has compiled a map of the most protected and least protected areas in Australia, and found that the state’s largest forests are among the least protected.
The report, compiled by a team of experts, has been released to coincide with the National Forest and Wildlife Management Association’s annual national forest management conference in Adelaide.
The map covers the whole of the Australian outback, from the lowland, coastal regions, north-west Queensland, south-west Victoria and parts of the south-east to the Northern Territory.
It also covers areas within the Great Barrier Reef National Park and surrounding regions.
The report’s author, Dr Andrew MacDougall from the University of Queensland’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said the findings were an “excellent and important snapshot” of the state of Australia’s forests.
“Our research found that many of the areas that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to loss and degradation are also areas that are home to some of the best remaining species of birds and reptiles and other invertebrates, and are also the best habitat for some of Australias most threatened species,” Dr MacDougal said.
“A significant number of these protected areas are also highly biodiverse and have been well documented for their biodiversity.”
Dr MacDougell said the map showed that there were areas of Australia with large amounts of biodiversity, such as the Great Basin National Park, which had a population of more than 20,000 species of wildlife, and the Northern Maroochydore Reserve, which was home to a population that was estimated at more than 1,000.
Dr MacKay said the report was a reminder of how vital it was for people to be aware of the environment, and how much protection is needed.
“We have a responsibility to protect the environment and its resources, to have a good understanding of the biodiversity of our planet and to make responsible decisions about the management of those resources,” he said.
The map is based on the results of an annual survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Parks and Wildlife (AIPW) and the National Parks and Wilderness Council.
The survey covered more than 4,000 sites across Australia, with more than half the areas in the state covered.
“In terms of biodiversity and biodiversity protection, we’ve identified areas of the Great Northern Territory and the Great Western region as the most vulnerable to environmental degradation and loss,” Dr McKay said.
It also found that Queensland’s Great Barrier Coast, with a population estimated at 1.5 million, was the most degraded region, with the lowest level of biodiversity.
The survey also found there were significant areas in western Victoria with high biodiversity, particularly the Great Australian Bight, and areas in South Australia, including the South Australian Coastal Plain and the Kimberley, with high levels of biodiversity that were likely to be lost as a result of the land being cleared for agriculture.
Dr McKay says the research highlighted that the conservation community needed to focus on biodiversity.
“Biodiversity is a global issue,” Dr McLellan said.
“It is very important that we all work together to make sure we have good management and protectability, and that we also protect biodiversity in places that are not as well protected as they are.”
Dr McLellan also highlighted that conservation groups and other environmental organisations needed to provide a stronger and more cohesive voice in the policy-making process.
“There is still a long way to go, but we’ve seen the first results of the AIPW’s report in this area,” he added.
“The research from AIPWs report shows that we need to make better decisions, but also better science and better communication to ensure that we can achieve a better outcome.”
It is clear that conservation is a national issue, and we need a more coordinated national approach.