Amidst its captivating landscapes and unique biodiversity, Australia faces a concerning battle against deforestation.
According to records, the continent ranked first for mammal extinctions globally and second for biodiversity loss, damaging an average of 416,840 hectares of forestry yearly. It’s surprising that only Australia is on this list among other developed nations.
Australian trees’ deforestation and wildlife extinctions are not just a concern of one country but a global catastrophe needing relevant actions. Let us look into the latest deforestation statistics in Australia to get a significant glimpse of this phenomenon.
Drivers of Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal or clearing of trees or forests in a particular land area due to various complex factors that interplay with one another. These factors are both natural and man-made, requiring mitigating actions to reduce the adverse impacts.
Here are some of the main drivers of Australian trees’ deforestation:
1. Population Growth
As the population grows, so does the need for various infrastructures, housing and agriculture to cope with the needs of the people.
Forests often suffer from this situation as many of these areas undergo significant development and conversion to cater to the increasing population.
2. Logging and Timber Production
The logging and timber industry requires cutting down trees to produce wood and other products, including paper, furniture and construction materials. Unsustainable and irresponsible logging practices may reduce forest resources.
3. Agricultural Expansion
Another common driver of deforestation is the conversion of forests into agricultural land. This circumstance does not only happen in Australia but globally.
The growing human population’s increasing demands for food supply led to land clearing for crop cultivation and livestock production.
4. Infrastructure Development
Various infrastructure developments, such as the construction of highways, roads, buildings and urban areas, often require forest clearing, leading to significant deforestation.
These expansions can destroy forest ecosystems, causing them to be more susceptible to loss and deterioration.
Deforestation may also result from natural or human-induced fires. People or developers may conduct land clearance by intentionally setting the forests on fire as a means of land management.
On the other hand, natural forest fires or wildfires are often brought and intensified by climate change, leading to extensive deforestation.
6. Climate Change
Increasing temperatures and altered weather patterns due to climate change affect forests’ conditions, making them more vulnerable to pest infestations and diseases.
This indirect impact often prompts management practices to cut down trees in the affected areas to mitigate the damages, contributing to deforestation.
7. Mining and Extraction
The presence of mining industries also leads to significant forest clearing. Oil, coal and mineral extraction are just a few of these activities that can destroy wildlife habitats and cause water pollution and soil erosion.
8. Illegal Logging
Unlawful practices such as illegal logging are also one significant driver of deforestation. Such activities threaten the forest resources and cause crime and corruption.
9. Inadequate Policy Awareness and Enforcement
Combating deforestation requires intensive implementation of laws and dissemination relevant information for awareness. The lack or weak enforcement of protective rules and regulations may intensify deforestation.
The governing bodies need to impose consequences for illegal land clearing and logging to reduce the adverse impacts on the forest lands.
Deforestation Statistics Effects and Facts
Have you ever wondered how many trees are cut down annually in Australia?
Australia has lost much of its forests for the past two centuries. The Global Forest Watch reports in 2019 showed Australia has lost 800,000 hectares of tree cover. It was the country’s second-highest annual loss recorded in history.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also revealed that the country holds one of the developed nations’ highest deforestation rates. Since European settlement, around 40% of Australia’s woodlands and forests have been destroyed.
Every 86 seconds, Australia suffers the destruction of forest areas equivalent to Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which is very concerning.
Environmental Impact of Deforestation
Massively removing forests and trees from a region has significant and far-reaching environmental impacts.
Not only do these consequences affect the nearby ecosystems, but they also add to global environmental problems. Let us take a closer look at how deforestation affects the environment:
Loss of Biodiversity
Australia provides shelter to diverse species, and forests are a critical part of their habitat. The increasing rate of deforestation disturbs ecosystems, causing habitat loss and destruction.
According to the WWF, deforestation endangers over 1,000 plant and animal species in Australia.
Since 1750, Australia has lost 28% of its mallee forest, 27% of its rainforest, 19% of its open forest, and 11% of its woodland forest. Only half of Australia’s forests and bushlands have survived since the pre-European arrival.
On the other hand, similar to most regions in the world experiencing deforestation, agricultural production is primarily to blame. The increasing demands of consumers for various commodities spark the development of farmlands in forest areas.
Based on a 2022 Queensland Conservation Council and Wilderness Society report, over three-quarters of the 2.1 million hectares of forested vegetation were destroyed between 2014 and 2019 on cattle-producing lands.
Australia’s supply chains with the highest risk of deforestation are under pressure to adopt sustainable practices. Such actions are necessary to address the growing consumer demand for commodities produced without causing deforestation.
Tree Cover Loss
- Between 2001 and 2022, Australia suffered from 8.85 Mha tree cover loss, which is a counterpart of a 21% decline from 2000 and 2.30 Gt of CO2e emissions.
- Deforestation resulted from most tree cover loss in Australia between 2001 and 2022, accounting for 2.2% of the total degradation.
- New South Wales and Western Australia are the top two regions in Australia responsible for 59% of total tree cover loss between 2001 and 2022.
- New South Wales had the greatest tree cover loss at 3.01 Mha, while Western Australia had 2.24 Mha.
- Australia had a tree cover change of -917 kha (-1.0%) between 2000 and 2020.
- Between 2000 and 2020, Australia increased its tree cover by 1.60 Mha or 1.2% of the global total.
- Australia has had the highest number of mammal extinctions worldwide.
- In Australia, 37 plant and 55 animal species had perished as of this writing.
- In Queensland and New South Wales, habitat loss mainly threatens the presence of koalas.
- Between 2019 and 2020, there was land clearing activity in Queensland totalling 147,575 ha to rear cattle for meat inside mapped areas that are known and expected to be koala habitats.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are one of deforestation’s most crucial environmental impacts. Trees absorb CO2 during photosynthesis, serving as carbon sinks.
Burning or destroying trees leads to emissions of the stored carbon into the environment. According to the Australian Academy of Science, deforestation accounts for about 8% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, land clearing in Australia results in carbon emissions that are nearly one-third of all emissions produced by coal-fired power plants in the entire country.
If native forest logging emissions are considered, the percentage equals at least half of the carbon pollution produced by all Australian coal-fired power plants.
Efforts to Combat Deforestation
An integrated strategy involving sustainable land management practices, government regulations, ethical consumer behaviour, and international collaboration is necessary to battle deforestation.
Combating deforestation focuses on upholding sustainable forestry, safeguarding high-conservation-value forests, and tree replanting activities to replace lost forest cover.
Additionally, it is crucial to deal with the underlying causes of these worldwide environmental problems in order to find the best long-term solutions:
Consumers may easily recognise wood supplies from sustainably managed forests thanks to certification organisations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), promoting ethical logging methods.
Indigenous Lands Management
The forests’ preservation and sustainable practices promotion can benefit greatly from working with Indigenous communities with in-depth land management expertise.
Australia collaborates globally to stop deforestation, understanding that such a phenomenon is a significant problem that crosses international boundaries.
The country aims to maintain its distinctive ecosystems while contributing to global efforts to battle deforestation through collaborative efforts between governments and international organisations.
With this, all participating countries can build more resilient and sustainable futures and environments.
Australia has adopted several conservation programs and legislation, such as the “National Landcare Program”, which promotes sustainable land management techniques.
The “20 Million Trees Program” is part of the National Landcare Program of the Australian Government, aiming to develop healthy, self-sufficient tree-based ecosystems across the country by planting 20 million native trees and understory.
Tree care and clearing companies in Australia also adhere to preservation standards and regulations set by the authorities for environmental protection.
Australia’s deforestation is a crucial issue threatening the country’s biodiversity and unique ecosystems. It also significantly contributes to worldwide climate change.
Knowing and monitoring deforestation statistics in Australia is essential for the continued implementation of various initiatives to combat such a serious issue.
Moreover, the presented deforestation statistics in Australia showed the importance of tackling deforestation urgently and effectively.
We must understand that the trees’ value is immeasurable. However, the deforestation statistics indicate a significant problem with trees or forest protection and conservation.
Let us battle deforestation by addressing deforestation causes, utilising effective conservation techniques, upholding sustainable land management and fostering collaborative efforts among local and international communities.
You may also partner with a professional tree arborist company for proper maintenance and professional removal of trees on your property and neighbourhood.
A well-versed and responsible team like Trees Down Under guarantees the effective and safe preservation of your trees.We adhere to environmental standards and play our part in battling deforestation in Australia. Our simple actions can go a long way. Contact Trees Down Under at any time!