The State of the Environment is a large-scale survey conducted every five years by a group of independent scientists. The report, which was finished last year but not published until now, said that though many of the factors affecting the environment were the same as in previous reports, their effects have become more intense.
The 2021 report was the first to document in detail the widespread effects of climate change on animals and ecological systems, its authors told local news media.
“Climate change in the form of more severe drought, extreme weather events, fire and habitat modification is becoming a new driver for habitat change and species loss,” the report said.
The fires of 2019 and 2020 increased the extinction risk of many plants and animals, including many that were already endangered, it said. Extreme heat played a role in mass fish die-offs, when over a million were found dead in rivers.
The report said that climate change continues to warm and acidify the ocean, and several marine heat waves on the Great Barrier Reef, along the country’s northeast coast, were accompanied by significant coral bleaching events. Conditions on the inner reef were “approaching a tipping point” that would cause the decline of juvenile coral.