The people problem

| May 10, 2024

Sustainable Population Australia is alarmed that the NSW Biodiversity Outlook Report 2024 fails to identify population numbers and growth as the underlying causes of biodiversity decline in the state.

SPA national president Peter Strachan, says habitat loss is cited as the major threat to biodiversity; yet the report does not explain why this habitat loss is occurring.

“It is because we clear land to facilitate the agricultural and urban expansion necessary to house and feed people,” says Mr Strachan. “In short, the primary cause of this habitat loss is our growing population.

“NSW’s population grew by 186,100, or 2.3%, in the year ending 30 September 2023. These additional people all need to be fed and housed and have other infrastructure provided to meet their needs and wants. This includes hospitals, schools, roads and recreational and shopping facilities. The list is almost endless.

“It is inevitable that habitat will be destroyed to meet these demands , whatever the policies of mitigation employed.  The urban consolidation  we see in Sydney at the moment might reduce or slow this impact, but it will not prevent it.

“The federal State of Environment 2021 report, released by Minister Plibersek in mid-2022, made clear that Australia’s growth in population and consumption are major contributors to the on-going decline in the Australian environment. This warning extended well beyond the issue of habitat loss.

“There is no such acknowledgement in this NSW report.

“The NSW Biodiversity Outlook report rightly emphasises the current and future impact of climate change. But, again, it ignores the obvious link between our emissions and our ever-growing population and consumption.

“The combination of these pressures – climate change and human encroachment – will certainly prove too much for many species.

“We can no longer quarantine our growth agenda from its obvious environmental impact. We cannot maintain a business-as-usual approach to our economy if we hope to stem our environment’s decline.” It is the main reason we have failed thus far.