Climate change affects Australia’s environment

Australia’s unique environment is under pressure. Threats such as land clearing, salinity and invasive species are making our natural assets vulnerable. Climate change exacerbates existing threats such as increasing frequency of fires, and contributes to more persistent droughts. The gradual rise in temperatures may eventually go beyond the tolerances of some species.

There is still much uncertainty about how individual species and the landscape will respond to future climate change. It is vital that we have the right information to ensure Australia makes sound decisions in this area.

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive plan to address the potential impacts of climate change on our environment. The National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan, developed by the Australian Governments’ Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, was finalised in September 2004. The Plan is the first step in the long term challenge to assist our native plants and animals to adapt to future climate change. The Plan includes steps to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change on our natural resources, and will help us identify and protect vulnerable species living on the land and in freshwater and marine environments. It promotes actions such as revegetation around forest patches to make plant life more resilient to rising temperatures.

The Plan includes activities aimed at preventing the establishment of invasive species, and reducing the chance of existing weeds, feral animals and plant and animal diseases from spreading further in future climates. Putting the Plan into practice may require a change in the way we manage our natural resources. We need to use the best available science to determine which actions will work and how best to apply them. We also need to weigh up the economic costs and benefits of taking certain actions.

The Plan provides valuable information including steps to undertake case studies across a range of natural environments. Most of all, the community needs to have access to the most accurate information on this important issue.

The Plan includes actions to integrate information about climate change impacts on biodiversity into existing educational material and school programmes, so that future generations of Australians can take up the fight to protect our precious natural resources.

For a copy of the Plan visit, and for a brochure visit For further information contact the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage email