Press "Enter" to skip to content

Health of Australia’s environment declined in 2023 amid low rainfall

The health of Australia’s environment declined in 2023 amid low rainfall and a spike in the number of threatened species, a report has said.

Led by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), Australia’s Environment Report compiles detailed scientific data to rate the overall health of the country’s environment out of 10 every year since 2011.

In 2023, the environment scored a 7.5 out of 10, the latest edition published on Tuesday revealed.

It marks a fall from 2022 when the environment was given an 8.7 out of 10, the highest ever score.

Albert Van Dijk, lead author of the report, described 2023 as a climate rollercoaster for Australia, with a relatively cool start to the year giving way to dry and unseasonably warm weather from May onwards.

According to the report, the average national rainfall in 2023 was 511 mm, down from 663 mm in 2022.

Low rainfall contributed to an early start to the fire season in August but forecasts of a severe season did not come true because of a return in rainfall in November, Van Dijk said.

The report said that a record 130 species were added to the Threatened Species List in 2023 compared to the annual average of 29 in recent years.

The researchers said the spike was likely a delayed effect of the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.

“This brings the total number of threatened species in Australia to 2,098, a 47 percent increase since 2000,” Tayla Lawrie, co-author of the report from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), said in a media release.

“Climate change was the major driver of new listings, threatening 87 percent of newly listed and uplisted species. For the remaining 13 percent of species, extinction risk factors included cane toad poisoning, habitat loss due to clearing and mining, myrtle rust and water extraction.”

Australia was not one of the 77 countries globally that reported their hottest year on record in 2023, the report said.

It revealed that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose for the first time in five years in 2023 and the country ranked 10th globally in emissions per person.

Famagusta Gazette