Skip to content

State of the Environment Report: An urgent reminder 

Published 25 Jul 2022 by Will Sacre

The recent State of the Environment Report 2021 is a call to action to the Australian public to protect our natural places. The report outlines the increased pressures of known threats such as climate change, habitat destruction and invasive species that are driving species decline and ecosystems collapse. While the research is confronting, the information is not surprising and highlights the dire environmental challenges that conservationists are already working to address.

Bush Heritage’s Executive Manager for Science and Conservation, Dr. Rebecca Spindler, considers the report a significant step-change in the way these environmental issues are dealt with, which include key areas that Bush Heritage has identified in its 2030 Strategy

“The report reinforces the importance of Private Protected Areas, of upscaling and bringing innovation to our national conservation efforts, and working beside Traditional Owners, ensuring Traditional Knowledge is recognised, respected and protected,” she said.

Bush Heritage sees robust and transparent data as a fundamental step towards building resilience in our natural landscapes. A key example is the Conservation Futures project (In collaboration with University of Melbourne and others) that will bring together First Nations people, natural resource managers, private landholders, industry, government, research and conservation groups to develop culturally sensitive, integrated planning and knowledge-gathering systems.

The State of the Environment 2021 report acknowledges that “Indigenous ways of knowing and seeing are essential for meeting the environmental challenges of today and the future”, but financial and other critical support is needed for Traditional Owners to manage their country.

The report also comes with a government commitment to protect 30% of land and sea country by 2030, a positive step towards mobilising support across public and private sectors. There are now over 1900 species and communities listed as threatened – a figure which was exacerbated by the 2019-20 Black Summer fires that killed or displaced between one and three billion animals.

According to Dr. Spindler, “While this is confronting, it's not surprising... We know that Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world, that our species are in rapid decline, and the consequences of this on life, as we know it, will be severe.”

Climate change projections indicate that the geographic range of some invasive species and disease-carrying vectors will increase, fire impacts will be more intense and less predictable, surface temperatures will increase, and water patterns will change significantly across much of Australia. Bush Heritage scientists prioritise long-term planning and work closely with scientists from the CSIRO to gather the most up to date climate data and projections.

Our Priority Landscapes Framework accrues research, climate modelling and analysis to identify the landscapes where we can make the biggest difference. It’s based on strengthening, reconnecting, and fostering resilient landscapes, and underscores Bush Heritage’s strategy to curb the tide of environmental degradation. For example, Bush Heritage is establishing ecological “steppingstones” to protect and restore critical habitats to maintain species viability and habitat connectivity, through the recently purchased Ediegarrup Reserve in the Fitz-Stirling Region of southwest Western Australia. As a highly fragmented landscape, reconnecting patches of remnant bushland in this international biodiversity hotspot is key to species health moving forward.

As part of its 2030 Strategy, Bush Heritage is aiming to double its network of reserves from 1.2 million to 2.4 million hectares, strengthen its Aboriginal partnerships program, and grow its emerging focus on agricultural partnerships, all with a view of working across 30 million hectares of land to improve conservation values. 

With more than 50% of Australia made up of agricultural land, Bush Heritage is working with research partners to support farmers to boost biodiversity on their properties through natural capital accounts. The Smartfarms project, led by La Trobe University, is just one of a number of programs demonstrating this emerging focus. The project aims to work across 10 million hectares of agricultural land by 2030. 

The bredth of the report, and the public sentiment surrounding it, is a positive step towards large-scale mobilisation. According to Australia's Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, “The scale of this challenge means that governments can’t do the job alone. We need to work with industry and philanthropic partners – many of whom are already doing great work.”

Bush Heritage and partners have the tools, strategy and knowledge to tackle these challenges and work proactively against the growing threats outlined in the report. The next steps will be in continuously strengthening the response and maintaining every-day work on the ground.

According to Dr. Spindler, “We have seen the impact we can make when we show up for the environment and get our boots dirty and our hands in the ground. But we have to do it strategically, from a foundation of good data and we have to do it together. We can boost biodiversity through land-based biodiversity focused carbon projects, agricultural partnerships and ecological restoration to benefit the whole of the landscape and reverse the damage done.”

Dr Rebecca Spindler. Photo by Annette Ruzicka. Dr Rebecca Spindler. Photo by Annette Ruzicka.
Ecologist Matt Appleby. Photo by Annette Ruzicka. Ecologist Matt Appleby. Photo by Annette Ruzicka.
Photo by Kieran MacFarlane. Photo by Kieran MacFarlane.
Gondwana Link, WA. Photo by Greenskills. Gondwana Link, WA. Photo by Greenskills.
Drys Bluff, Liffey Valley, Tasmania. Photo by Amelia Caddy. Drys Bluff, Liffey Valley, Tasmania. Photo by Amelia Caddy.
Native grasses. Photo by Amelia Caddy. Native grasses. Photo by Amelia Caddy.
Revegetation on Monjebup Reserve, Fitz-Stirling region, Koreng Noongar Country. Photo by Krysta Guille. Revegetation on Monjebup Reserve, Fitz-Stirling region, Koreng Noongar Country. Photo by Krysta Guille.
Glovers Flat, Liffey Valley, Tasmania. Photo by Mike Bretz. Glovers Flat, Liffey Valley, Tasmania. Photo by Mike Bretz.

Recent stories

The critically endangered Central Rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus). Photo: Michael Barritt & Karen May (used under Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 2.0)

05/04/2024 05/04/2024

Conservationists and landholders unite to protect critically endangered Central Rock-rat

The critically endangered Central Rock-rat has been sighted on Hewitt’s Narwietooma property following ecological surveys conducted in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia.

Read More
Woodland bird. Bush Broadcast.


Webinar: Nardoo Hills turns 20

Victoria has cleared over 80% of its woodlands. In the face of that destruction, 20 years ago Bush Heritage managed to secure critical patches of temperate woodlands within Nardoo Hills, which have been cared for ever since. It’s a beautiful milestone and a cause for celebration.

Read More
A Brushtail Possum at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Badimia Country, WA. Photo: Brad Leue

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Possum party

Four hours north-east of Perth, the sight of a Brushtail Possum is one for celebration. It was recorded on a motion-sensor camera, and has been on a very special journey.

Read More
Fire on Yourka Reserve, Jirrbal and Warrungu Country, QLD. Photo: Alistair Hartley

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Team spark

Teamwork, firebreaks and prescribed burning protects Yourka Reserve.

Read More
Cumberland River and cliffs on Gadubanud Country, VIC. Photo: Luke Nagle

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

My happy place

CEO Rachel Lowry revels in the rolling waves, golden sandstone cliffs, and the dark green of thick gum forest of her happy place.

Read More
Ecologist Dr Donna Belder bird monitoring on Scottsdale Reserve, Ngambri and Ngarigo Country, NSW. Photo: Tad Souden

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Birdy barometer

One in four woodland-dependant birds are listed as threatened, and their populations are declining. Monitoring sheds light on how we can protect them.

Read More
'The Painted Desert' on Evelyn Downs is located on Yankunytjatjara and Antarkirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara  Country, SA. Photo: Annette Ruzicka

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Protecting a painted beauty

Many paint our arid regions with a broad stroke and by doing so, obscure their vital intricacies. Thanks to our generous supporters, we can appreciate the diverse desert landscape of Evelyn Downs – our largest-ever reserve and newest acquisition.

Read More
Patersonia fragilis 'fairy rings' at Friendly Beaches Reserve, Tasmania. By Mike Bretz.

21/12/2023 21/12/2023

Peculiar Patersonia patterns

High above the 121-hectare reserve, they made a curious discovery. From the controller’s tiny screen, they spotted a strange circular pattern in the vegetation. Then another, and another.

Read More
Tree in arid landscape.


Evelyn Downs webinar

In-depth discussion of our campaign to buy Evelyn Downs in South Australia's Painted Desert. This spectacular property will provide habitat for over 60 species of conservation significance.

Read More
{{itemsInCart}} Items - {{formatCurrency(grandTotal)}}