The word “unprecedented” has been in regular use lately. As predictions about climate change increasingly become observations, we are witnessing firsthand the impacts of more frequent and severe weather events. These events are playing havoc with our health, our agricultural systems, our communities and our economy. But they are also having devastating impacts on our natural ecosystems and unique wildlife.
This report highlights recent examples of these impacts. In many cases, our ecosystems and species were already under threat from other human-associated causes - like land clearing, overharvesting, and invasive feral animals and weeds. Climate change is adding to this litany of woes, in some cases providing what might be the last straw for species and systems already under grave stress.
- Australia is home to more than a million species of plants and animals, yet our track record on conservation is woeful; climate change is making it even harder to protect our natural ecosystems and unique wildlife.
- Australia has one of the highest rates of species extinction in the world and it now holds the first record of a mammalian extinction due to climate change. Other species are in grave danger because of our warming climate.
- Droughts, ‘dry’ lightning strikes and heatwaves are transforming many Australian forests.
- Australia needs to take a far bolder approach to conservation to ensure our species and ecosystems are as resilient as possible to worsening extreme weather.