Addressing Land, Water & Biodiversity
Land refers to the solid surface of the earth, the elements beneath and above it. Hence, land includes soil, rocks and minerals. The land is essential to cater to the most needs of man. To the indigenous Australians, it has a deeper connection with their history and religion.
Land degradation means dangerous alterations made to the status or condition of land because of the various purposes they are intended to serve. The change that occurs with land degradation is usually undesirable and unfavourable and often affects the land’s quantity and quality. Nonetheless, some degraded lands can still use for the supply of goods and services.
Land degradation is generally caused by the removal of vegetation, among other environmental factors. However, land degradation in Australia can be attributed to colonial activities carried out by the Europeans from 1788. The situation is terrible in Australia to a level that two-thirds of agricultural lands are degraded and therefore calls for urgent measures because it could result in insufficient production of goods.
Land Degradation can occur in various forms, which include erosion, salinity, acidification etc.
Erosion is the washing away of the earth’s nutrients by water or wind, or other factors. It may appear as a natural disaster, but there are activities by a man that triggers such an event that ought to be curbed.
Salinity is the salt level of the earth. It usually occurs through rain or marine ingression when salt will be deposited over a long period. The salt consequently leached into the underground water and aquifers. There are two types of salinity which are dry land and irrigation-induced soil salinity.
Acidity in soil occurs when the pH level of the earth is below seven. It occurs naturally over a relatively small part of Australia. Most are acidic because of the farming culture or methods.
It may be induced through a mixture of certain elements such as anions and nitrate. The management and control of degraded lands have now been included in the country’s educational syllabus. It is because of the need for everyone to learn each land’s dynamics and its efficient utilisation.
Land degradation also affected the waterways and the quality of potable water. In some rural areas, the supply of water is sufficient for its sparse population. However, in urban regions, water scarcity is a plague caused majorly by climate change (climate change causes less rainfall and increased evaporation). It gets worsened with the increasing population and, consequently, increased level in water consumption.
The Australian government attempted to alleviate the situation in the following ways.
Water Consumption Management
Reduction in water consumption level is made possible through enlightenment programs, rebates, limitations and rewards.
Increasing the Supply of Water
This step involves the storage of water and recycling for other use such as gardening and toilet purposes. The primary source of water remains the dams and rainfalls, although the government continues to deliver potable water to the cities with no burden on the environment.
Biodiversity refers to the variations of species on the earth’s surface. Australia is one of the megadiverse countries globally, with over five hundred thousand species in existence. Biodiversity in a country is influenced by the difference in Australia’s environmental conditions, not similar to those of other regions.
The biodiversity nature of the country is not unaffected by climate change or land degradation. However, through the tool of conservation, the Australian government has been able to sustain its value. The legislation that protects the environment is the EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act).