Monday February 4, 06:16 PM
Report forecasts koala extinction
Koalas and gum trees will be extinct within decades unless greenhouse gas emissions were immediately reduced, a new report has found.
Warnings from the Bush, released by the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA), contains dire predictions for the future of 90 of Australia's best loved plants and animals, including the state emblems of Victoria (Leadbeater's possum), South Australia (hairy-nosed wombat) and Queensland (koala).
The report, a collation of the past 10 years of scientific research on Australia's environment, said unchecked global warming would wreak havoc on the World Heritage-listed Kakadu, the Wet Tropics, the Great Barrier Reef and the Blue Mountains.
Hotter temperatures would also wipe out many species of gum trees, allow the rampant spread of native and feral weeds and increase the likelihood of bushfires similar to those experienced in NSW over Christmas.
CANA coordinator Anna Reynolds said global warming had already damaged the Great Barrier Reef and changed the habitat and behaviour of many plants and animals.
"The world is nearly one degree warmer than it was 100 years ago and that (warming) is expected to continue," Ms Reynolds told reporters in Melbourne.
"The world's temperature has actually been very stable for the last 10,000 years and most of our loved plants and animals, our gum trees, our koalas, these plants and animals, these icons of Australia, are used to a stable climate."
Scientists have predicted a one to six-degree increase in average temperatures in the next 70 years.
An increase of just one degree would kill half the mountain rainforest of north Queensland's World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics.
The report recommended the immediate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and a shift away from the world's fossil fuel-based economy.
It recommended a system of wildlife corridors to assist the mass southerly migration of animals to cooler regions.
Ms Reynolds said individuals could also help by switching to green power and lobbying business and governments to do the same.
"There are so many jobs and economic opportunities in the solutions to climate change, more so than in the fossil fuel operations that cause climate change," she said.
Ms Reynolds said the report was not a document of doom.
"It is a warning to us, to all Australians, that we need to prevent any further global warming if we are to protect our great natural places," she said.
Mountaineer Brigitte Muir, who co-launched the CANA report, said it was up to every Australian to ensure the predictions in the report did not come about.
"Doing nothing right now will be to condemn Australian wildlife but also our very own children to a very uncertain future indeed," Ms Muir said.
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