We were recently supplied with a report from the Australian National University called Australia’s Environment Report Card. They have used satellite, station and survey data to track indicators of the environment and have shown a big decrease in the Wheatbelt’s 2019 score. The overall environmental score (out of 10) was 1.6, down from 5.9 in 2018.
What has driven this decline?
Many of the indicators they chose are closely linked to the climate and it tells an interesting story.
While the maximum temperature for the year was below average, the number of hot days (above 35 degrees) for the year was over 50 which is the highest they had recorded.
You can then imagine what coupling that heat with the 3rd lowest rainfall since 2000 does to indicators like soil moisture and vegetation condition.
We know it was a hot dry year. The decline in environmental condition across the country is sobering – with basically all of the indicators getting worse. It is hotter, it is drier, the population is growing and the fires are increasing. Again – we know this.
The NRM strategy for the Avon River Basin focuses on things we can do.
Below is a list of the strategies that we are pursuing with our work.
Develop viable economic systems on saline land
- Maintain ground cover on agricultural land
- Develop opportunities for perennial vegetation-based enterprises
- Plan for carbon sequestration
- Maximise water harvesting, reuse and recycling
Next year we will be revisiting this strategy, given that our environmental score is still declining, are we doing the right work? Perhaps we just need to do more of it?
The report card for our region is here http://wenfo.org/aer_pdf/NRM_Regions_2017/Avon%20River%20Basin.pdf
To check out how the rest of Australia went in 2019 the link is here www.wenfo.org/aer/scorecards/