TNC Photo - Mark Godfrey
The severe and rapid degradation of Australian plants and species has been well documented by many scientists, including in the comprehensive book "On Borrowed Time" by Prof David Lindenmayer.
A more important question then becomes: "Where to from here?"
Following are some thoughts from Australian scientists asked for 10 commitments in their areas of specific interest that they would like from the Australian Government.
Professor Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland's Ecology Centre believes that prevention is better than cure; so rather than now try to cure past mistakes we should stop doing things that cause further biodiversity loss. As it turns out, he says, this approach includes most of the cost-efficient actions we can take anyway.
Professor Possingham also advocates investment in long-term monitoring of cleverly chosen aspects of biodiversity, with honest reporting on any changes that occur
Professor Anthony McMichael of the ANU's National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health wants to improve public understanding of the fundamental role of environmental health in sustaining good health for Australians. To do so he wants to broaden our preoccupation with the economic impacts of environmental and climate change to include the health risks that may accompany these changes.
Professor Richard Kingsford wants to establish an Australian Heritage River System, recognising floodplains in policies, management and regulation, and to restore compromised river flows to iconic wetlands.
When it comes to energy consumption, Professor Ian Lowe of the Australian Conservation Foundation wants to regulate the energy efficiency of appliances, vehicle fleets, industrial equipment and buildings to reflect world's best practice, and mandate solar hot water for all dwellings.
Max Bourke, Director of the Thomas Foundation and a member of the TNC Advisory Board, wants all laws reviewed that might be used to encourage private investment and land management for improved environmental outcomes.
He also suggests the creation of an Australian 'Al Gore clone' who can consolidate and condense the information coming from conservation biologists, convert it to a politcal agenda, and then persuasively 'spruik it'.