Victorian SoE report highlights need for action on key issues

The latest Victorian State of Environment (SoE) 2018 Report has found mixed progress on environmental protection, based on findings on 170 scientific indicators across 13 themes assessing the health of land, water, air and ecosystems.

The 13 themes are: climate change impacts; air; biodiversity; land; forests; fire; marine and coastal environments; water resources; water quality; waste and resource recovery; energy; transport; and megatrends.

A summary of outcomes is not encouraging. It shows that only 11% of indicators are ranked as good, with 37% fair, and 32% poor. The trends are equally worrying - 30% of indicators are deteriorating, 30% are stable, and only 10% are improving. Trends for the remaining 30% of indicators are unclear.

The report, prepared over four years by the office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Gillian Sparkes, presents 20 recommendations including improved air, pollen, water and waste monitoring, localised climate projections (particularly in agricultural regions) and the appointment of a Chief Biodiversity Scientist for Victoria.

Dr Sparkes has warned that a business as usual approach to environmental management “will not enable us to keep pace with the adaptive management required to cope with climate risks and population growth”.

“We need to be able to understand and act faster than ever before. Government must build capability, harness citizen science and move beyond traditional methods of environmental monitoring and reporting.”

Dr Sparkes said SoE 2018 is the most comprehensive scientific baseline SoE report produced in Victoria in recent history.

For the first time, all 170 SoE indicators have been aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), setting up the SDGs as the next Victorian State of Environment reporting framework.

The indicator assessments, combined with an analysis of global mega trends affecting Victoria’s environment over the next decade, provided the evidence base and strategic context for developing the report’s 20 recommendations.

The recommendations establish a blueprint for immediate action and future focus, to support the Victorian government to keep improving its environmental monitoring and management systems and capabilities.

The report summarises the health of Victoria’s environment at a time of unprecedented population growth. It contains a comprehensive scientific baseline of Victoria’ environment, an analysis of the quality and availability of scientific data on Victoria’s environment and the pressures and challenges ahead.

The indicators tell essentially three stories – one on the health of Victoria’s environment, secondly the adequacy of our science and monitoring programs and thirdly the areas for future focus by the Victorian government.

Victoria is forecast to grow at an average rate of 1.5% per annum to almost 8 million citizens by 2031 and 10 million by 2051,” says Dr Sparkes.

“This growth puts pressure on our natural environment. I am confident that the findings and recommendations in the SoE 2018 report will be used to benefit Victoria’s natural capital for many years to come.”

The SoE 2018 report coincides with the release of two other reports - the State of the Yarra and its Parklands 2018, and State of the Forests 2018

More information is here and the summary report is here. The summary of recommendations is here.

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