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Australia is home to some of the world’s most unique and rare animal species. However, since European settlements in 1788, the country has experienced widespread habitat destruction and degradation, and the introduction of non-native predators such as cats and foxes, causing more than 100 endemic species to go extinct over the past 200 years. Many more animals are currently threatened or at the risk of extinction as urban development and bushfire events, which are exacerbated by climate change, persist. Here are 10 endangered species in Australia that are in dire need of protection.

Most Endangered Species in Australia

1. Koala

Undoubtedly the most iconic animal species in Australia, koalas unfortunately have been hit hard in recent years due to a combination of factors including severe bushfires and droughts, and persistent habitat loss from land clearing. As koalas are arboreal, meaning that they spend most of their lives in trees, losing forest land critically impacts the survival of the species. Within the past three years, the koala population has plummeted down from eight million to 32,000 with many experts fearing that the marsupial will go extinct very soon. Every region across Australia saw a decline in population with zero evidence of any upward trends. In some areas, the loss has led to only five to 10 koalas remaining. 

You might also like: Australia Has Lost a Third of Its Koala Population in Just Three Year’s Time

2. Mountain Pygmy-possum

One of the starkest examples of a species facing extinction due to climate change, the Mountain Pygmy-possum is a tiny mammal no larger than a mice that are only found in the snowy mountain tops in Victoria and New South Wales. The marsupial goes through a prolonged hibernation over winter of up to seven months under two to four metres of snow. With rising temperatures, the length of time snow stays on mountain tops are lessened, shortening the possum’s hibernation period and impacting its food foraging activities. Along with added impacts from the 2019-2020 summer bushfires, losing critical habitats as a result, the species is highly vulnerable with only about 2,000 individuals left in the wild. 

3. Long-footed Potoroo

This small kangaroo-like marsupial can mostly be found in southeast Victoria and up across the border with New South Wales. Much like significant portions of wildlife in Australia, the long-footed Potoroo was severely impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and lost much of its range and habitats. However, the animal has played a crucial role in the recovery of burnt areas, dispersing the spores of a fungi in its droppings that helps re-establish plant life in the affected areas. The Potoroo remains listed as Endangered in both the states of Victoria and New South Wales, as well by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Estimates place less than 2,500 individuals left in the wild and the species’ population continues to decline and fragmented from other factors like timbering and predators. 

greater glider, endangered species in australiaImage by: Dash Huang/Flickr

4. Greater Glider

With soft toy-like bushy ears and tail, the Greater Glider is a nocturnal animal that travels the highest parts of the forest canopy across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria at night while denning in hollowed trees by day. Recent bushfires have destroyed the majority of its critical habitats while logging activities in the country saw its population drop by 80% within the last 20 years. Though the species is currently listed as vulnerable, experts predict they will likely become endangered in the next five years as land clearing and other destructive practices for urban development continue. 

5. Numbat

Also known as the banded anteater, the Numbat exclusively feed on termites – up to 20,000 every day – with its long sticky tongue. Land clearing, habitat loss and predation by feral predators such as cats, foxes, dingoes and birds of prey have driven the species to lose 99% of its historical range by the 1970s, pushing the animal to be endangered as a result. There are two naturally occurring populations remaining in the southwestern portion of Western Australia. While other populations have been reintroduced in New South Wales and South Australia, there are still only less than 1,000 individuals left in total in the country. 

You might also like: 10 Australian Extinct Animals That Came Back from the Dead

6. Regent Honeyeater

As its name suggests, the Regent Honeyeater feeds primarily on nectar from a small number of eucalypt plant species and other plant sugars. These birds play a crucial role as pollinators for many flowering plants. They can mainly be found in eucalypt forests and woodlands but land clearing, fragmentation and degradation of its natural habitats as well as competition for nectar from larger, more aggressive honeyeaters have driven its population to drop by more than 80% within three generations. The honeyeater is now listed as critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 with only just 300 individuals remaining in the wild. The species has become so threatened that scientists have found that it has started to lose its bird’s song

orange-bellied parrot, endangered species in australiaImage by: Wikimedia Commons

7. Orange-bellied Parrot

One of only three migratory parrot species in the world, the Orange-bellied Parrot migrates from Tasmania to coastal Victoria and South Australia to spend autumn and winter every year. While habitat loss and degradation are contributing factors, increased predators and noxious weeds as well as disease in their breeding region have all pushed the bird species to the brink of extinction – some estimates within three to five years – with only up to 50 mature individuals remaining. The lack of female parrots in the wild also makes it difficult to help with species recovery. 

8. Eastern Quoll 

The Eastern Quoll was once found throughout south-east Australia and has disappeared from the mainland Australian for more than half century due to disease, predation by foxes, feral cats and domestic dogs, poisoning and persecution. Today, they can only be found in Tasmania. This nocturnal catlike carnivorous marsupial not only hunts for invertebrates such as spiders, cockroaches and grasshoppers but also rabbits, mice and rats, acting as natural pest control and helping maintain the ecosystem. Other threats such as vehicle collision and trappings in some areas continue to hinder conservation efforts. 

9. Eastern Curlew

The Eastern Curlew is the largest shorebird in the world where it uses its impressive bill to dig through mud for crabs and molluscs. Wetland destruction and alteration to the chain of coastal wetlands along their migratory path, which have been degraded by urban development, flood mitigation, agriculture and pollution, have caused its population to plummet by more than 80% in the last 40 years, and is now critically endangered species in Australia. Additionally, the shorebird is also impacted by bycatch in fishing nets, disturbance of nest sites and degradation of coastal mudflats.

10. Woylie

Once widespread throughout Australia, this rabbit-sized marsupial has been threatened by the introduction of predators of foxes and cats, causing their rapid decline. Disease, competition with rabbits for food and impact from grazing animals from agricultural activities have all contributed to its status as a critically endangered species in Australia. Woylie plays an important role in the desert ecosystem as they disperse fungal spores that help native plants grow. Losing this species could have long-term effects on the larger natural environment. 

You might also like: 10 of the World’s Most Endangered Animals in 2022

It is undeniable that the climate crisis and land-use changes are worsening wildfires around the world. According to the UN, extreme fire events are set to increase by about 50% by the end of the century, with the Western US, northern Siberia, central India, and eastern Australia already experiencing significantly more blazes. Here is a list of the top 12 largest wildfires in history and the damage they caused to biodiversity, ecosystems, and urban settlements.

Top 12 Largest Wildfires in History:

1. 2003 Siberian Taiga Fires (Russia) – 55 Million Acres

In 2003 – during one of the hottest summers Europe experienced up to that point – a series of extremely devastating blazes in the taiga forests of Eastern Siberia destroyed over 55 million acres (22 million hectares) of land. A combination of extremely arid conditions and increased human exploitation during recent decades are believed to have played a role in what is remembered as one of the most devastating and largest wildfires in human history. The fires spread across Siberia and the Russian Far East, northern China, and northern Mongolia, sending a plume of smoke that reached Kyoto thousands of miles away. Emissions from the Siberian Taiga fires can be compared to the emission cuts promised by the European Union under the Kyoto Protocol and their effects can still be seen in present-day environmental studies on ozone depletion.

2. 1919/2020 Australian Bushfires (Australia) – 42 Million Acres

The 2020 Australian bushfires went down in history for their catastrophic impact on wildlife. The ​​extreme bushfires tore through New South Wales and Queensland in southeastern Australia, burning 42 million acres, destroying thousands of buildings, and killing dozens of people as well as 3 billion animals, including a staggering 61,000 koalas. Australia experienced the hottest and driest year in its recorded history in late 2019 and early 2020, which was a major contributing factor to the devastating wildfires. Data released by the climate monitoring body show Australia’s mean temperature in 2019 was 1.52°C higher than average, making it the warmest year since records began in 1910; January 2019 was the warmest month Australia has ever recorded. Rainfall was 40% below average, its lowest level since 1900.

You might also like: 3 Things to Know About Australia Wildfires and Bushfires

3. 2014 Northwest Territories Fires (Canada) – 8.5 Million Acres

In the summer of 2014, over 150 separate fires broke out across the Northwest Territories, an area of about 442 square miles (1.1 billion square kilometres) in northern Canada. 13 of them were believed to have been caused by humans. The smokes they generated sparked air quality warnings across the whole country as well as in the US, with smoke visible as far away as Portugal in western Europe. A total of nearly 8.5 million acres (3.5 million hectares) of forest were completely destroyed and firefighters operations cost the government a staggering US$44.4 million. These devastating consequences made the Northwest Territories Fires one of the worst recorded in nearly three decades.

4. 2004 Alaska Fire Season (US) – 6.6 Million Acres

The 2004 fire season in Alaska was the worst on record  in the history of the US state of Alaska in terms of area burned. More than 6.6 million acres (2.6 million hectares) of land were burned by 701 fires. 215 of these were started by lightning strikes; the other 426 were started by humans. The summer of 2004 was extremely warm and wet in comparison to the typical interior Alaska summer climate, which resulted in record amounts of lighting strikes. After months of this lighting and increased temperatures, an uncharacteristically dry August resulted in the fires that continued through September.

5. 1939 Black Friday Bushfire (Australia) – 5 Million Acres

Gone down in history as Black Friday, the bushfires that destroyed more than 5 million acres in Victoria – a state in southeastern Australia – in 1939, were the culmination of several years’ drought, followed by high temperatures and strong winds. The fires covered over three-quarters of the state’s area and resulted in 71 casualties, making it the third most deadly bushfire in Australia’s history. Despite going on for several days, on 13 January, when temperatures reached 44.7C in the capital Melbourne and 47.2C in Mildura in the northwest, the fires escalated, claiming 36 lives and destroying more than 700 homes, 69 sawmills as well as several farms and businesses. Ash from the blazes fell as far away as New Zealand.

6. The Great Fire Of 1919 (Canada) – 5 Million Acres

Despite happening more than a century ago, the Great Fire of 1919 is still remembered as one of the largest and most devastating wildfires in history. In early May, a complex of many fires swept through the boreal forest of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The wood that had been cut for the timber industry, combined with strong, dry winds, contributed to the quick-burning flames that, within just a few days, ravaged about 5 million acres (2 million hectares), destroying hundreds of buildings and claiming 11 lives.

You might also like: 10 Interesting Facts About Wildfires

7. 1950 Chinchaga Fire (Canada) – 4.2 Million Acres

Also known as the Wisp fire and ‘Fire 19’, the Chinchaga Forest Fire burned in Northern British Columbia and Alberta from June until the early fall of 1950. It went down in history as one of the largest recorded fires in North American history, burning an area of approximately 4.2 million acres (1.7 million hectares). While lowering the impact on buildings and threat to humans, the lack of settlements in the region allowed the fire to burn freely. The massive amount of smoke from the blazes created the historic ‘Great Smoke Pall’, a thick cloud of smoke that obscured the sun for nearly a week, turning it blue and making it visible to the naked eye without discomfort. The phenomenon could be observed for several days across eastern North America and Europe.

8. 2010 Bolivia Forest Fires (South America) – 3.7 Million Acres

In August 2010, more than 25,000 fires burned across Bolivia, covering an area of approximately 3.7 million acres (1.5 million hectares) and damaging especially the country’s section of the Amazon. The thick smoke that resulted from them forced the government to halt numerous flights and declare a state of emergency. Among the causes was a combination of fires started by farmers to clear land for planting as well as dry vegetation resulting from the extreme drought that the country experienced during the summer months. The Bolivia forest fires were some of the worst the South American nation experienced in nearly 30 years.

9. 1910 Great Fire of Connecticut (US) – 3 Million Acres

Also called the Big Burn, Big Blowup or the Devil’s Broom fire, this wildfire roared through the states of Idaho and Montana during the summer months of 1910. Despite burning for just two days, strong winds caused the initial fire to combine with other smaller fires to form one massive blaze that destroyed 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) – approximately the size of the entire state of Connecticut – and killed 85 people, making this one of the worst wildfires in US history. Despite being remembered for the destruction it caused, the Fire paved the way for the government to enact forest protection policies

10. 1987 Black Dragon Fire (China and Russia) – 2.5 Million Acres

Also known as the Daxing’annling Wildfire, the Black Dragon fire of 1987 may have been the largest single fire in the world in the past several hundred years as well as the deadliest forest fire in the People’s Republic of China. It burned incessantly for over a month, destroying approximately 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of land, 18 million acres of which were forest. While the exact cause is not clear, Chinese reports stated that the fire might have been caused by human action. A total of 191 lives were lost during the fire, with a further 250 left injured. Additionally, nearly 33,000 people were left displaced.

You might also like: The Impact of Wildfires on Biodiversity and the Environment

11. 2011 Richardson Backcountry Fire (Canada) – 1.7 Million Acres

The Richardson Backcountry Fire broke out in May 2011 in the Canadian province of Alberta. It was the largest fire event since the 1950 Chinchaga Fire. The blaze burned nearly 1.7 million acres (688,000 hectares) of boreal forest and resulted in a series of evacuations and shutdowns. According to authorities, the fire was almost certainly the result of human activities, however, extremely dry conditions, abnormally high temperatures, and high winds aggravated the intensity.

12. ​​The 1989 Manitoba Wildfires (Canada) – 1.3 Million Acres

Last on our list of the largest wildfires in history are the Manitoba fires. Between mid-May and early August 1989, a total of 1,147 fires – the highest number ever recorded – broke in Manitoba, a Canadian province home to an immense variety of landscapes, from the arctic tundra and the Hudson Bat coastline to dense boreal forest and large freshwater lakes. The record-breaking fires burned nearly 1.3 million acres (3.3 million hectares) of land, resulting in the evacuation of 24,500 people from 32 different communities. The costs to suppress them amounted to US$52 million. While fires during the summer months are nothing new in Manitoba, the number of fires occurring in 1989 was nearly 4.5 times higher than the 20-year average of 120 monthly fires. While May’s blazes were mostly attributed to human action, most of July’s fires were caused by intense lightning activities.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like: 15 Largest Wildfires in US History

Research for this article was conducted by Earth.Org research contributor Anjella Klaiber

Cities generate 80% of gross domestic product, they are the engines of economic growth and have lifted millions out of poverty. As rural to urban migration is accelerating, sustainable cities are emerging to achieve idyllic urban settings. Here are the top five most sustainable cities in the world right now. 

Technology is growing at a rapid pace every day. As each new technology brings with it an immense pool of possibilities, governments around the world are continuously investing in smart city technologies and incorporating them into their policy-making decisions and the developments of the cities they govern. 

By leveraging connected technology, most sustainable cities are able to improve their operations and people’s lives in many different ways such as by enabling data-driven decision-making powered by “big data”, increasing civic engagement through enhanced transparency, reducing environmental footprint as a result of the development of energy-efficient buildings and investment in renewable energies, and improving the transport network. 

UK-based company Uswitch recently came up with a list of the most sustainable cities in the world, ranking them with a score based on energy, transport infrastructure, affordability, pollution, air quality, CO2 emissions, and percentage of green space. The scores are out of 600 (600 being the best). To fully understand how technology can be beneficial, we can examine how the top smart cities in the world are making use of the latest technologies in the most practical ways to support their sustainability goals. 

1. Wellington, New Zealand

Pollution from our everyday lifestyle is one of the most common contributors to climate change. In Wellington, however, that does not seem to be the case. The city scores a pollution index of 13.66, meaning for every 100 air particles, only 13.66 are polluted. Wellington’s air is clean for several reasons. For starters, the population of just 213,000 living there are relatively sparse compared to other regions. Unlike countries filled with large factories, Wellington’s main industries are horticulture, agriculture, fishing, and tourism. 

It is home to organisations advancing in circular economic agendas such as Kaibosh, Powershop, Flick, and Whare Hauora, with the city regularly funding startups to assist finding new solutions to address social issues.

Wellington has adopted circular economy principles in its design of smart city infrastructure, allowing countless components to be reused, remanufactured, and replaced in ways that support continued improvement. These infrastructures are also complementing projects that help conserve the environment, such as Predator Free Wellington, which is a strategy eradicating pests from the city in order for bird life to thrive. The number of birds is counted by sensors with TensorFlow capabilities. 

2. Zurich, Switzerland

Although Zurich is known for its financial powers, it is also one of the leading smart cities when it comes to sustainability. The city’s smart initiatives mainly focus on education, efficient public transport, waste-reduction goals, and the use of renewable energies. 

In a place where sustainable mobility and public transport are all heavily promoted, Zurich is also known as “a biker’s haven”. Similar to Copenhagen, there are bikes offered all over the city free of charge. Zurich has been building dedicated cycling tracks and car-free roads, some of which already cover almost 20,000 km of Swiss soil and are perfectly coordinated with public transportation to ensure seamless transport. 

The construction of new housing and public buildings needs to comply with strict sustainable-building principles, with businesses and industries being held accountable for their energy consumption and waste-reduction goals. As of today, 70% of hotels in the city are sustainable certified. 

Zurich is able to produce 80% of its electricity with renewable energy sources. Over 40% of its waste gets recycled. 94% of old glass and 81% of polyethylene terephthalate containers arrive at special collection points instead of ending up in household bins. 

You might also like: 4 Commonly-Used Smart City Technologies

most sustainable cities, copenhillSkiing in Copenhill. Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen has multiple sustainability initiatives in place to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. Buses are making the transition from diesel to electric, while more roads are devoted to cycling. People are getting more accustomed to cycling than driving to get around, with only 29% of households owning a car

Over two-thirds of the city’s hotels are eco-certified and provide bicycles for rentals. Each hotel has an environmental manager to ensure industry-leading sustainability standards. 

A quarter of the city’s total food sale is made up of organic produce. Even fast food options such pizzas, hot dogs, burgers, and craft beers are produced with organic ingredients here. 

One of Copenhagen’s significant landmarks, Copenhill, is an incredibly efficient energy plant that turns waste into energy that helps power houses and buildings. The facility is also covered by a year-round artificial snow slope – one of the longest in the world – for skiing and snowboarding, 

4. Madrid, Spain

Madrid’s well-publicised move to ban polluting vehicles in the urban centre is considered one of the most significant actions taken by a European city to improve air quality.

In addressing the impending threats of climate change, the city’s municipal government introduced the “Strategic Plan of Green Areas, Trees and Biodiversity of the City of Madrid”. It believes that green infrastructure investments bring benefits by expanding and restoring gardens and parks, improving diversity, and minimising air pollution through improved traffic management. Madrid is currently building a green wall around the city, as well as a 75-kilometre forest with nearly half a million new trees. 

To meet the city’s nitrogen reduction goals this year, diesel cars have been completely banned from the city centre. This would also make the city significantly more pedestrian-friendly. While some plans to turn car lanes into pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes are in motion, the city is also introducing more green transport options and installing more docking stations for bicycles, all so that people are encouraged to leave their cars at home. If residents do not fancy riding a bike, they can still hop on Madrid’s 78 electric-powered buses.

5. Canberra, Australia

Whether it is about renewable energies, pollution levels, traffic management, affordability of property, percentage of green space, or CO2 emissions, Canberra takes the top spot among the most sustainable cities around the world.  According to Uswitch, Canberra is the most sustainable city in the world due to its reliance on renewable energy and large amounts of green space. What’s more,  87% of Canberra’s transport infrastructure is greenThe country’s capital relies heavily on the use of solar power and nearby wind farms, while having ensured that 94% of its residents have access to the internet to make it a connected city. 

Through the 2020-21 budget, the government offered a number of initiatives to support Canberra residents through the transitions. For example, zero-interest loans will be available for eligible households to finance a range of products that would reduce household emissions such as installing solar panels on rooftops, household battery storage, and efficient electric appliances. To further encourage green transport, zero-emission vehicles acquired between 24 May 2021 and 30 June 2024 will receive two years of free registration.

Canberra is the first city outside of Europe to be powered by 100% renewable energy. The territory government also aims to have a net-zero carbon emission by 2045.  

You might also like: Top 7 Smart Cities in the World and How They Do It

Climate change has led to the large-scale burning of our forests, with human, plant, and animal life being directly and indirectly affected. Forest fires are important for proper land management. However, if the fires keep raging for longer durations, encompassing more land and life with them, then they can be detrimental to the safety of our planet. We explore the impact of wildfires on the environment and biodiversity.

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Many parts of the world have experienced one of the hottest summers on record this year, due to the increased number and intensity of heatwaves. With this rise in temperatures, forests have become more perceptible to wildfires and tend to burn more easily than in the past. 

Fire has always been a natural part of our ecosystems as it is one of the five elements of nature along with air, water, soil, and space. All are quite important for our survival and to maintain a balance on our planet. However, climate change has contributed to a massive rise in extreme events – especially wildfires – most of which destroy huge areas of forests and wildlife habitats, threatening the survival of hundreds of thousands of animals.

impact of wildfires

Image 1: Wildfires in the Mediterranean, 2021 

One might naturally wonder how fires could be useful for survival. Before diving into that, let us understand when a wildfire or a forest fire may occur. 

What Causes Wildfires?

A wildfire starts when there are combustible objects or dry fuel, there is oxygen in the air and a source to create a spark such as lightning, or human activities like campfires, arson, or cigarettes if not properly extinguished. Dry fuel such as grass, leaves, or branches – found in forests in large quantities – make it easier for the fire to grow and spread. Other factors such as dry air and strong winds can increase the chances of a fire occurring or spreading further, hence forest fires are more likely to occur during heatwaves. 

Sometimes, agricultural activities such as land clearing by fire – also known as slash and burn – can also cause a forest fire. Poor farming practices are quite harmful to forests as they contribute to soil erosion, which creates the perfect conditions for a fire to occur. 

Invasive and reckless human activities such as land clearing to facilitate industrial and urban expansion have also been found to be a growing cause of wildfires. Statistics show that nearly 85% of global wildfires are caused by humans and their negligence. To name another example, of the massive wildfires that broke out in Turkey in 2021, a staggering 71% were also caused by human activities.

The Impact of Wildfires: Benefits and Dangers to the Environment

Regular fires have played a fundamental role in sustaining the biodiversity of a particular region. Certain species of plant and animal life depend on fire and help in the evolution process by creating a disequilibrium that gives them new opportunities to become stronger and more resilient. Hence, fire becomes the disruptor driving the process of natural selection. 

Many indigenous communities in parts of Australia, North America, and India would start controlled fires to facilitate the development of specific ecosystems. In fact, fires can reduce the accumulation of dry fuel and any other unwanted organic matter and hence prove useful for mitigating the intensity of future, non-planned fires. Controlled fires are also important for recycling nutrients, building up plants’ resilience to fires, and controlling diseases by destroying unwanted insects. 

Specifically, controlled fires are valuable to woodpeckers and other birds as they get a large supply of dead wood for foraging. Fires promote the production of seeds in some specific plant species whose cones depend on fire to open and release seeds. Such fires prove to be quite important for researchers to better understand our biodiversity and the role of fires and they also provide training to firefighters. 

Controlled fires may also give way to the emergence of new plant life with particularly enhanced characteristics that may not be endemic to a specific region. This way, pyro-diversity – the variation in spatio-temporal fire patterns – can be beneficial to biodiversity. 

Even though in some instances, forest fires can have some positive impacts, they still tend to hurt the biodiversity within the region they occur in. One of the largest wildfire events in history is the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, which went down in history for their catastrophic impact on wildlife. Australia has quite a great biodiversity network with many species of plants, animals, and other organisms which were destroyed or damaged during these bushfires. 12.6 million hectares of land were burned, killing about 3 billion animals and dozens of people. Many species became endangered or closer to extinction as a result. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorised koalas and orangutans to be at risk of extinction and changing patterns of fires worldwide are only adding on to the dangers of species loss. 

You might also like: 3 Things to Know About Australia Wildfires and Bushfires

impact of wildfires

Image 2: Hectares of forests lost to wildfires, 2021 

Large-scale and intense wildfires like the ones that occurred in Australia can have other indirect health impacts, due to smoke and other particulate matter, leading to respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, reduced lung function, as well as skin problems, eye irritation, and in some cases even premature death. 

Wildfires are also adding to the list of threats to food security and are affecting various species of crops and agricultural produce. One of the most affected industries during Australia’s 2019-2020 bushfires was the dairy industry. The states of Victoria and New South Wales – the country’s top milk-producing states – lost huge amounts of land. Fires also affected cattle, harming the production of meat, honey, and wool. 

Can We Mitigate the Impact of Wildfires?

Fire activity has been changing with more frequent and more disastrous fires breaking out more and more often in fire-prone areas such as Siberia, California, and Australia. Contrarily, fires seem to be declining in areas like the grasslands of North America and Brazil, whose environments are pyro-dependent. 

To mitigate the impact of wildfires, countries like the US, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia have instituted forest administrative bodies and enacted forest protection policies. Greece is the first country in the world to have set up a Climate Crisis Ministry to tackle the challenges that the changing climate poses to our planet with a policy of disaster prevention and preparedness, which Christos Styliandes, minister for Climate Crisis  described as “the most effective weapon.” 

Climate change is a major reason for the changing patterns of fire activity and the increased frequency of wildfires. Changing landscapes and their mismanagement can also be blamed for the increase in burning. The climate that forests adapted to is now constantly changing, making them less resilient and hence more prone to fires. 

This creates a vicious loop: Wildfires are indeed further contributing to a rise in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. In February this year, a report by the UN stated that wildfires globally are set to double by 2100, which would hit regions that were previously unaffected by these events. There is an immediate need for more funding and efforts toward preventing wildfires rather than extinguishing them after they have already caused colossal damage. 

While is impossible to prevent all wildfires from happening, mitigating climate change will play a crucial role in tackling the negative impact of wildfires. 

You might also like: What Causes Wildfires? 

Countries around the world are stepping up their efforts to set up carbon emission reduction targets and outline a pathway to net-zero. On Wednesday, India approved an updated plan to cut GDP emissions intensity by 25% by 2030, while Australia pledged to reduce emissions by 43% in the same timeframe. 

Wednesday was an important day for India. More than a year after the United Nations deadline to submit updated emission reduction targets, the Asian country finally approved its new climate action plan, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The updated NDC foresees a reduction of the emissions intensity of India’s GDP by 45% from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. This is 10% more than what the country had pledged in its 2015 NDC. 

India –the world’s third-largest coal producer and emitter of carbon dioxide – also plans to achieve 50% cumulative electricity generation from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. The country previously set the target of non-fossil fuel-based power generation to 40% and managed to achieve it in 2021. 

India’s green transition, supported by billion-dollar investments in renewable energy, is already well underway. Today, the country is fourth globally for overall installed renewable power capacity, which increased from 2.6 gigawatts (GW) to more than 46GW in the last 7.5 years, a staggering growth of 286%. 

At last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Modi announced the country’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2070. The updated NDC comes just months ahead of the next round of global climate talks that will take place in Egypt this November.

You might also like: 5 Biggest Environmental Issues in India in 2022

Meanwhile, following years of climate inaction, Australia also set new carbon emission reduction targets. 

Just one day after India’s updated climate action plan was released, the country’s Lower House of Parliament passed a bill that commits the government to reduce emissions by at least 43% from 2005 levels by 2030, entering a “new era” of commitment to addressing climate change.

Long a climate laggard under Scott Morrison’s leadership, the new bill passed by the newly elected Labour government is putting the country “on the right side of history”, said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

While not as ambitious as pledges from the US and European Union, the long overdue commitment – which Albanese campaigned on – is finally bringing Australia forward in the global race to net zero.

Despite pressure from the Green party, the government refused to rule out new oil and gas projects altogether.

You might also like: Australia’s Wildlife And Habitats Are Disappearing Rapidly: Report

Ocean acidification is threatening marine ecosystems and it is the main cause of mass coral bleaching events. It is estimated that by 2100, this phenomenon could cost the global economy US$3 trillion a year, with huge repercussions on the fishing and tourism industries. Due to its devastating impacts on the planet, this is undoubtedly a paramount environmental issue that is worth addressing. What is it and what are the effects of ocean acidification on marine life, ecosystems, and human life? 

What is Ocean Acidification?

Ocean acidification refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time. The pH unit is used to measure the water acidity on a scale of 0 to 14, with the lower value indicating a higher acidity. A continuous reduction in the pH thus reflects ongoing acidification of the ocean. 

The acidity of ocean water is largely exacerbated by hydrogen ions (H+), a chemical proton. The higher the concentrations of hydrogen ions, the more acidic the water gets, meaning that its pH value descreases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essentially the main culprit of the acidification of the ocean, as it can be easily broken down into hydrogen ions. To put it simply, carbon dioxide can combine with water to create carbonic acid, which can then further break apart into hydrogen ions, making the water more acidic.

Depending on seasonal and regional factors, the pH value of ocean water will fluctuate naturally. For example, pH is generally lower in cold water as carbon dioxide dissolves well in colder temperatures. The polar regions are therefore found to be particularly prone to ocean acidification. For the same reason, the seawater in winter is usually more acidic. The pH value can also be lower in volcanic areas, where large amounts of carbon dioxide escape from natural volcanic sources. 

All things considered, it is easy to see the connection between global warming and ocean acidification: both are primarily caused by an increase in carbon dioxide levels. The oceans have absorbed between a third and a half of the carbon dioxide humans have released into the atmosphere since 1850. It is exactly for this reason that oceans, along with forests, are considered the world’s biggest carbon sinks. By absorbing emissions, they help alleviate the consequences of global warming. Yet, the ever-rising carbon dioxide emissions are overloading the capacity of these carbon sinks, leading to the worsening of ocean acidification. This means that there is no climate change without more acidic oceans. In other words, unless we reverse global warming, our oceans will keep getting more acidic.

How Acidic Is the Ocean? Some Statistics

The pH value of global seawater – which naturally contains alkaline ions that come from the weathering process of continental rocks – has remained stable at an average of 8.2 for millions of years. However, since industrialisation began around the 1760s, the value has decreased to about 8.1. 

While this change might seem insignificant, it is important to keep in mind that the pH scale is logarithmic and thus a small change in pH can cause an exponential change in acidity. In fact, a change of 1pH unit represents a tenfold change in acidity. This slight decrease in average water acidity is also found to represent a 26% increase in acidity over about 250 years, a rate that is 100 times faster than marine species have experienced in tens of millions of years. Worse still, the acidification is not expected to come to a halt, with the pH of ocean water estimated to further drop by 0.3 to 0.4 units by 2100, equivalent to a 150% increase in acidity over preindustrial times. 

What is Ocean Acidification; the effects of ocean acidification

Figure: Pre-industrial pH levels and predicted pH levels for 2100

A study published in 2014 by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has provided a comprehensive set of statistics on global marine acidity. In this study, 2005 is used as a reference year to draw on four decades of measurements. 

Scientists found that the acidity of the Bering Sea – located in the Northern Pacific Ocean and dividing Alaska and Siberia – has reached a pH value of 7.7, making it the world’s most acidic sea. The sea is even more acidic than that in the Antarctic, which is said to be more vulnerable to acidification because of the cold climate. The difference in acidity can be attributed to the fact that the Bering Sea is partially enclosed by land. While acidic water can easily flow out of the Antarctic region, the water in the Bering sea remains trapped.

While the pH value of the equatorial Pacific is subject to high variability because of El Niño and La Niña events, the tropical and temperate oceans were recorded to have the least variation, with pH ranging between 8.05 and 8.15 as temperatures fluctuate in winter and summer. Temperate oceans were also found to be less acidic compared to the other regions.

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What Are The Effects of Ocean Acidification And Should We Be Concerned?

The acidification of the ocean is dangerous, if not catastrophic, to the marine ecosystem. Because acidic water removes carbonate ions – a crucial building block for shells and skeletons – lots of marine organisms are particularly at risk in a more acidic ocean. 

Coral reefs – large underwater structures composed of the skeletons of colonial marine invertebrates called coral – contain one of themost biodiverse ecosystems on earth and are thus incredibly valuable to our planet. They are sources of nitrogen and other nutrients for marine food chains, and also offer protection to coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms. It is therefore imperative to preserve them.

Unfortunately, mass coral bleaching events, typically associated with ocean acidification, are occurring at an unprecedented rate. Indeed, more acidic water reduces the water’s carrying capacity for calcium carbonate, which is crucial for coral reefs to rebuild their exoskeletons. Today, coral reefs are experiencing more acidity than they have at any time in the last 400,000 years. This is threatening the survival of coral reefs all over the world, from Australia to Hawaii. 

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Ocean acidification also brings socio-economic impacts to societies. The tourism industry is expected to bear the brunt of this crisis. Countries that rely on marine ecosystems such as coral reefs to attract tourists, are particularly affected. One example is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, which every year generates approximately A$5.4 billion (US$3.7 billion) in revenue.

Food security is another negative effect of ocean acidification. Commercially viable marine species – such as oysters and mussels – are heavily impacted by this pehnomenon. It is estimated that the global annual costs of molluscs loss from ocean acidification could be over US$100 billion by 2100. New Bedford – a city in US that relies completely on scallops to sustain its economy, may experience huge financial losses due to ocean acidification.

Finally, the destruction of coral reefs adds more financial burden on coastal protection. Indeed, without protection from the coral reefs, shorelines are much more vulnerable to destruction from storms and cyclones. The loss of coral reefs will cause coastal erosion and result in damage of properties, with experts estimating costs of up to US$9 billion per year.

What Can Be Done to Tackle Ocean Acidification? 

The US National Science and Technology Council was asked to review federal efforts to address ocean acidification. In December 2016, it issued a document titled “Implementation of the Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification”, a comprehensive guide on the scientific understanding of the effects of ocean acidification, the extent to which federal agencies have implemented plans and policies to tackle this issue, as well suggestions on additional actions that could be taken to advance the federal response to ocean acidification. 

Moreover, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – a scientific and regulatory agency in the US – co-leads a pioneering network known as the “Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network”, engaging 66 nations in monitoring the progression of acidification, identifying areas of highest risk.

Other countries have also implemented measures and formed competent bodies in charge of monitoring and tackling ocean acidification. 

The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) in Australia operates a network of coastal and ocean observing systems to track many features in the ocean. Data is provided back to scientists to interrogate changes in ocean carbon, contributing to national and international studies.

Besides setting up networks and monitoring systems, countries must step up their efforts in reaching their climate pledges. As the latest IPCC report highlighted, we are still far from limiting global temperature rise below 2C and it is probably too late to keep it under 1.5C, a target that was set in 2015 in the Paris Agreement

The report suggested that we must peak global greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 at the latest, and cut emissions by 43% by 2030. Reaching this target will help tremendously in alleviating not only ocean acidification but also many other environmental issues including global warming and air pollution.

We as individuals can also play a role by lowering our own environmental footprint. Buy locally grown products, recycle our waste and reduce our consumption of plastics, opt for renewable energy to power our homes and avoiding the use of cars that run on fossil fuels

whenever possible are just some of the ways to cut down carbon footprint. By taking incremental steps, we can help preserve the health of our oceans.

Australia’s wildlife has experienced a sharp decline and most of the continent’s ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating or even disappearing, a five-year report on the state of the environment released on Tuesday found.

Australia’s ecosystems are collapsing due to climate change, invasive species, pollution, and other human interventions, the latest five-year national environmental scorecard found. 

In recent years, ecosystems in the continent have rapidly degraded, with at least 19 now showing signs of collapse or near collapse. Australia’s wildlife has also experienced unprecedented losses, with 202 new animal and plant species making the list of threatened species between 2016 and 2021. 

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Often described as a mega-diverse country given its wide variety of landscapes and the high number of endemic species, scientists found that climate change and human-caused habitat destruction have led to the highest loss rate of mammal species among any other continent and one of the highest rates of species decline in the developed world.

In the last five years, Australia has experienced record-breaking droughts, bushfires, and floods. The intensity and frequency of these extreme weather events are unprecedented and are set to further rise with increasing global warming, not just in Australia but all over the world, as the latest IPCC assessment warned.

The latest State of the Environment report is a stark reminder that climate change is rapidly destroying the natural world, which scientists warn holds the key to human wellbeing and survival. 

However, human activities like mining and deforestation have also played a huge role in the deterioration of the continent’s ecosystems, only exacerbating the issue. According to the report, 6.1 million hectares of primary native forest have been cleared since 1990 and especially over the past five years, with land clearing activities mainly affecting Queensland and New South Wales. As of today, almost half the country’s land has been converted and is now used for grazing. 

The report also highlighted the poor conditions of Australia’s waterbodies, which have seen a 90% decline in native fish populations in the past 150 years. Moreover, ocean acidification and marine heatwaves have caused mass coral bleaching events affecting particularly the Great Barrier Reef, which covers about 350,000 square kilometres, an area larger than the UK and Ireland combined. Coral reefs play a key role in ocean habitats and the ecosystem for marine life. Besides containing one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth, they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, are a source of nitrogen and other nutrients for marine food chains, assist in nitrogen and carbon fixing, and are a source of income for millions of people around the world.

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Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek – who released the report at an address to the National Press Club – described it as a “shocking document” that told “a story of crisis and decline in Australia’s environment, and a decade of government inaction and wilful ignorance,” Reuters reported.

Scientists completed the study last year but the Morrison government – often criticised for downplaying climate change – held it back for months until after the federal election. The report claims that not nearly enough funding was allocated to environmental protection in recent years and there has been a lack of coordination across jurisdictions to properly tackle the issues. 

Leading scientists are now calling on the newly elected government to urgently ramp up emission reduction efforts and take concrete steps to protect Australia’s wildlife and ecosystems.

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The latest survey reveals the shocking extent of Great Barrier Reef bleaching during a year associated with cooler ocean temperatures. 

More than 90% of the corals surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year were bleached, according to a report that was quietly published by Australian government scientists, confirming its sixth mass bleaching event on record. 

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority released the findings on a late evening on May 10 after weeks of delay, saying that above-average water temperatures in late summer had caused coral bleaching throughout the world’s biggest coral reef system. The most severe bleaching occurred in the central region between Cape Tribulation and Whitsunday, areas that are most visited by tourists. Inshore and offshore reefs were also badly impacted. 

“The surveys confirm a mass bleaching event, with coral bleaching observed at multiple reefs in all regions,” a statement accompanying the report said. “This is the fourth mass bleaching event since 2016 and the sixth to occur on the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.”

The reef, which covers about 350,000 square kilometres – larger than the UK and Ireland combined – has already undergone five mass bleaching events in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020. The events in 2016 and 2017 were so severe that it cost the death of 50% of Australia’s iconic reef.

Coral bleaching occurs as a heat stress response from rising ocean temperatures, which drives algae away from coral reefs, causing reefs to lose their vibrant colours. While bleaching can naturally occur, this is the first time the Great Barrier Reef experiencing extreme coral bleaching during La Niña, an oceanic phenomenon that is associated with cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures, highlighting worsening global warming. 

“Although bleaching is becoming more and more frequent, this is not normal,” said Lissa Schindler, a campaign manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “We should not accept that this is the way things are. We need to break the norms that are breaking our reef.”

While coral bleaching is a clear indicator of rapidly rising ocean temperatures and impacts to marine life, corals can survive and recover from these bleaching events. But as these heat stresses become more frequent and long-lasting, corals are more susceptible to diseases, slowing down their recovery and limiting their ability to spawn.

Still, David Wachenfeld, chief scientist of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority remains cautiously optimistic, saying that early indications show that the mortality rates won’t be very high from this mass bleaching event. 

The survival of the iconic landmark and important marine ecosystem will therefore depend on drastic greenhouse gas emission cuts within the decade, a topic that could determine the upcoming Australian elections on May 21. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative Liberal Party aims to reduce Australia’s emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030, while the opposition Labor Party is setting a more ambitious target of cutting emissions by 43% by the end of the decade.

Read more: Great Barrier Reef Should Be Listed as Endangered, UN Says. Australia Disagrees

Bushfires, high intensity fires burning in a wild area of land that spread rapidly, are usually extremely difficult to control and can thus, smoulder for days on end. They are very common in dry and hot climates such as Australia, where they have become a regular occurrence. We explore the main causes and consequences of the Australia wildfires and bushfires, and whether the Australian government has any solution in sight.

News that residents of Yeagarup, about 300km south of Perth, were urged to leave the area due to a life-threatening bushfire in the early hours of March 12, 2022, brought back memories of the deadly Australian Black Summer that took place just two years ago. During this historic wildfire season of 2019 and 2020, extreme bushfires tore through New South Wales and Queensland in southeastern Australia, burnt 42 million acres, destroyed thousands of buildings, as well as killing dozens of people and 3 billion animals

What is currently happening in Western Australia is just the latest example of an ongoing emergency that has been affecting the bushfire-prone country, from east to west, for decades. Some other examples of the most destructive wildfires in the country’s history are the 1939 Australia fires, gone down in history as Black Friday, during which nearly 4,000 homes across the state of Victoria were destroyed; the 1974-75 Australian bushfire season, which impacted 15% of the country’s physical land mass; and the more recent 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which claimed the largest number of human lives. 

australia wildfires

Figure 1: Forest Fire Danger in Australia

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1. Cause of Australia Fires

For a bushfire to start, there needs to be an ignition source. This can be a natural event, such as lightning strikes or spontaneous ignition, or it can be directly linked to human activities, such as vehicle fires, cigarette butts or campfires. From there, the risk of a fire developing is driven by four main factors: dry fuel such as leaves, grass, and branches, high temperatures, strong winds and dry air.

While the eastern part of the country is one of the world’s most fire-prone regions, with New South Wales and the Northern Territory of Australia being the main scene of extreme wildfire events, its Western regions are not spared either. Indeed, previous bushfires go to show that with the right conditions, blazes can occur in many other areas. The vast majority of the country is characterised by hot and dry climate. This, matched with strong winds, makes for ideal conditions for wildfires. Changing wind patterns, a steady decline in rainfall and rising temperatures since 1970 have made wildfires a regular occurrence, with the intensity and length of the fire season increasing year by year. 2019 was the warmest year on record and it was accompanied by 43 extremely warm days, 33 of which exceeded 39 degree Celcius. 

australia wildfiresFigure 2 : Number of days each year where the Australian area-averaged daily mean temperature for each month is extreme. Image by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

The Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), Australia’s system to monitor fire danger on a given day based on temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed, has been recording an increasing number of fire weather days for the past few decades, especially in the country’s southern and eastern regions, and mostly during spring and summer. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the steady rise in such events is due to climate change, which affects temperature, humidity, and associated changes to the fuel load in the landscape.

2. The Environmental Impact of Australia Wildfires

The bushfires in Australia have an enormous impact on humans as well as the country’s larger ecosystem and landscape. Direct impacts of such fires are first and foremost the destruction of millions of hectares of land and buildings along with human fatalities. Furthermore, hundreds of millions of animals are displaced or killed during these extreme events and are at risk of extinction in the aftermath as a result of the loss of habitat and food sources. Indeed, ‘megafires’ have contributed to a huge and rapid loss of many ecosystems during the past 200 years, such as 75% of rainforests and nearly 50% of all forests. Another correlated consequence of Australia wildfires is the decline in biodiversity. 

Australia, many experts have warned, is in the midst of an extinction crisis: with the world’s highest mammalian extinction rate, Australia lost 50 animal and 60 plant species in the last two centuries through wildfires, while an estimated 2,000 plant and animal species and woodlands, forests and wetlands, are at risk of extinction. Some examples of endangered species that have been particularly impacted by the most recent bushfires are the Kangaroo Island’s dunnarts, small nocturnal mouse-sized marsupials, which may have lost a staggering 95% of their habitat through wildfires, as well as koalas: according to the WWF, approximately 60,000 were killed or hurt in the 2019 Black Summer with the government recently declaring the species to be “endangered”. 

Another major impact of bushfires has been the destruction of agricultural land and farmland. The dairy industry is one of the hardest-hit industries, with reports indicating that Victoria and New South Wales, Australia’s top milk-producing states, suffered the greatest loss of land. Aside from milk production, meat, wool and honey output have suffered greatly, sparking debates about food security.

But the impact of these bushfires does not only affect Australia; The smoke deriving from the fires travels great distances and, in the case of the 2019 bushfires, it had reached Antarctic, New Zealand, and some countries in South America such as Argentina and Chile, compromising air quality and increasing fears of health issues related to air pollution, such as reduced lung function, bronchitis, exacerbated asthma, and even premature death. According to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the smoke from Black Summer also resulted in the depletion of the ozone layer by 1%, an amount which typically takes a decade to recover. 

3. How is the Australian Government Tackling the Crisis?

As bushfires become more frequent and intense, the conservative Australian government continues to deny climate change and does not want to bear the brunt of the blame, framing the climate crisis as one shared equally by all nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly dismissed calls to take stronger action to help fight climate change. His administration actively ended its involvement in energy-saving initiatives, such as abandoning the National Energy Guarantee policy, which would have required companies to meet certain emission-reduction targets, or halting payments to the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations’ major fund for battling the climate crisis. In late 2021, the Australian government unveiled a plan to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050 by investing in low-emission technologies, an announcement that many viewed as the first real step in the right direction. However, experts are rather sceptical, pointing out that the government has made no plans to retreat from its overreliance on coal and gas and that it omitted any toughening of emission targets for 2030, despite calls from scientists at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on the importance of reducing emissions.   

In the 2022 Climate Change Performance Index, Australia ranked 59th out of 64 for its lack of climate change policies, trailing many developed economies. As the report says: “The country received ratings of very low for its performance in every CCPI category: GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Use and Climate Policy”. A clear sign that the government is not giving climate change, the main driver of bushfires, the attention it deserves.

Featured image by: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times

The humpback whale population in Australian waters has enjoyed an impressive recovery since the ban on commercial whaling in 1979.

Australia has announced the removal of humpback whales from the country’s list of threatened species after a major recovery.

The number of humpback whales in Australian waters has grown to an estimated 40,000, a stark rise from the low 1,500 numbers recorded during the height of commercial whaling. 

When industrial whaling began in the 1930s, as much as 50,000 whales were being killed annually for the animal’s meat and oil, including the humpback whale. In Australia and New Zealand, more than 30,000 humpback whales were killed, driving the key marine mammal to the brink of extinction. It wasn’t until 1963 before local whaling operations ceased to capture humpback whales.  

The last commercial whaling station in Australia, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company in Western Australia, closed in 1978 and Australia adopted an anti-whaling policy in 1979. Global commercial whaling also came to a standstill following the International Whaling Commission (IWC)’s moratorium in 1986, with the exception of  Norway, Japan, and Iceland. The latter however, has recently announced it will finally stop commercial whaling by 2024. 

Since ceasing whaling operations, humpback whales in Australia have been able to bounce back and recover their severely depleted numbers, so much so that Sussan Ley, the Australian Minister for the Environment, said that the Threatened Species Scientific Committee has determined the formerly endangered species could be removed from the list.

“This is not about removing safeguards for humpbacks, which are still a protected migratory species, but it is a recognition of the success of the outstanding conservation efforts that are in place,” Ley said in a statement. “Our removal of the Humpback from the threatened species list is based on science and sends a clear signal about what can be achieved through coordinated action. It is a message of hope for the welfare of a number of species.”

The news comes just days after Australia declared the country’s most iconic animal, the koala, to be endangered, as its population took massive hits from the 2019-2020 bushfires and rampant logging activities in its natural habitats. 

Environmental groups however, feel Australia might have jumped the gun in its decision to de-list the species, describing it to be “short-sighted in the face of looming climate impact”. A study in 2020 found that climate change including rising ocean temperatures and environmental changes affects the humpback whale’s feeding habits and breeding rates. 

With ocean plastic pollution on track to triple by 2040, humpback whales and other species continue facing various threats including ingestion and entanglement. Rising marine traffic and its subsequent noise pollution also impacts the species’ survival, as they rely on sound to communicate, locate mates and prey, and avoid predators. 

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