IN GRAVE DANGER: koalas could disappear from the wild in NSW by 2050.
IN GRAVE DANGER: koalas could disappear from the wild in NSW by 2050. Friends of the Koala

Up there with notorious destruction hotspots

EASTERN Australia has been listed as a deforestation hotspot in a recent WWF report.

It was the only location in the developed world to make the list.

The Living Planet report, produced by WWF every second year for the past 20 years, states: 'all our economic activity ultimately depends on nature. Without healthy natural systems researchers are asking whether continuing human development is possible.'

Global populations of vertebrate species have declined 60 per cent since 1970 with koalas disappearing at a much faster rate - more than 20 per cent a decade, to the extent they could disappear from the wild in NSW by 2050.

The report assessed 11 deforestation hotspots, where broadscale clearing had occurred at problematic levels since 2010, and where deforestation was expected to continue in the next decade. Eastern Australia was the only location in the developed world to make the list.

"It is a wake-up call for our east coast to appear alongside notorious forest destruction hotspots such as the Amazon, Congo basin, Sumatra and Borneo," said the chief executive of WWF Australia, Dermot O'Gorman.

 

Eastern Australia has been listed as a deforestation hotspot.
Eastern Australia has been listed as a deforestation hotspot. WWF

The Living Planet report says clearing for livestock is the primary cause of deforestation on the east coast. Unsustainable logging is also a concern.

Ocean habitats are also in steep decline with the report warning up to 90 per cent of the world's coral reefs might be gone by mid century and listing seagrass meadows among the most threatened ecosystems on earth. Over the past 50 years mangroves have declined by 30 to 50 per cent.

Plastics in the marine environment is a widely documented problem with debris detected in all major marine environments worldwide, from shorelines and surface water down to the deepest parts of the ocean, even at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The WWF report warns that if action is not taken to reduce the flow of plastics into the sea, models predict that plastic will be found in the digestive tracts of 99 per cent of all seabird species by 2050.

The report uses the term 'Great Acceleration' as the unique event we are currently experiencing in the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet with exploding human population and economic growth driving unprecedented planetary change through the increased demand for energy, land and water.

The report says extinction rates among species are 100 to 1,000 times faster than the "background rate" before human pressures became a prominent factor.

WWF is calling for a new global deal for nature - a set of collective actions together with a roadmap for targets, indicators and metrics for reversing nature loss including scenarios for land-use change, dietary shifts, sustainable harvesting as well as traditional conservation approaches such as protected areas.