Major changes needed to protect Australia’s species and ecosystems
The results of the comprehensive study, conducted by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), revealed the need for a new attitude towards biodiversity conservation.
“Climate change is likely to start to transform some of Australia's natural landscapes by 2030,” said lead researcher, CSIRO’s Dr Michael Dunlop.
He added, “By 2070, the ecological impacts are likely to be very significant and widespread. Many of the environments our plants and animals currently exist in will disappear from the continent. Our grandchildren are likely to experience landscapes that are very different to the ones we have known."
Dr Dunlop said climate change will magnify existing threats to biodiversity, such as habitat clearing, water extraction and invasive species. Future climate-driven changes in other sectors, such as agriculture, water supply and electricity supply, could add even more pressure on ecosystems.
The study suggests that Australia needs to start rethinking the importance of biodiversity. It argues that stopping ecological change is becoming increasingly more difficult.
The project calls for more focus on maintaining the health of ecosystems as they change in response to climate change.
The study's results unveil that the National Reserve System will continue to be an effective conservation tool, but that conserving habitat on private land will be increasingly important in helping ecosystems adapt.
The team of researchers from CSIRO carried out modelling across the whole of Australia, as well as detailed ecological analysis of four priority biomes, together covering around 80% of Australia.
The study was funded by the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship.