Australia We Love: How are we tracking?

Friends of the Earth is a proud member of Places You Love.

PYL has just completed a landmark survey of Australia’s environment – our rivers, energy, climate, food, forests, waste and pollution, land management, oceans and reefs.

Here is what we found


  • More than 85% of rivers in Australia have been modified due to irrigation, dams other development pressures.
  • Of the sixty-eight zones of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s most significant agricultural region, only one zone is rated in good health. Thirty-eight zones are rated in poor health and twenty-one in very poor health.
  • Ongoing impacts of development and disturbance and the projected impacts of climate change will result in further decline of freshwater resources.
  • Almost one-third of the 851 nationally important wetlands in Australia do not have adequate water supply or flow to maintain their health.

Climate Change

  • Concentrations of greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere are higher than any time in the last 800,000 years, and emissions are projected to increase by 50% by 2050.
  • We will likely see four degrees of warming by the end of this century.
  • Two degrees of climate warming will likely mean the loss of most coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef, 80% of freshwater wetlands from Kakadu National Park, and Queensland’s tropical forests.
  • It is estimated that by 2050, increases in climate change-related bushfire damage in southeastern Australia will have cost an additional $1.5 billion per year, (over and above the costs if no climate change took place).


  • More than 3,000 Australians die each year from air-pollution-related illness, nearly twice the national road toll.
  • Each Australian family contributes enough rubbish each year to fill a three-bedroom house from floor to ceiling, and the total amount of waste generated in the future is projected to increase.
  • The health costs of air pollution in Australia are estimated to be in the order of $11.1 billion to $24.3 billion annually.
  • Since the 1970’s, application of agricultural chemicals in Australia has been steadily rising, contaminating water systems.


  • Since 1985 more than half of the coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef has been lost.
  • Remaining coral cover is predicted to be lost with two degrees warming through climate change.

Feral animals and plants

  • Invasive species have significantly contributed to extinctions in most regions of Australia,
  • including more than 40 native mammals, birds and frogs.

Habitat Change

  • We cleared an average of 1 million hectares of native vegetation per year between 2000 and 2010.
  • At least 50% of all wetlands in Australia have been drained, filled or destroyed.
  • 1259 plants, 396 animals and 67 ecological communities are listed as threatened by the Australian Government.

Humans in Australia

  • By 2100, Australian population is projected to be between 42 and 70 million people.
  • Total consumption per person in Australia is one of the highest in the world, and is projected to increase by up to 27% by 2030, with far-reaching impacts on nature including biodiversity, land use, climate and water.
  • By 2050, energy consumption in Australia is projected to increase by around 21%, with only 14% coming from renewable sources.

You can find the full report here.