State of the environment: Victoria gets a D

The Commissioner for the environment has released the five yearly State of the Environment report for Victoria. The summary report can be found here.

Even the summary report is not easy reading, but it’s fair to say that in most categories Victoria gets only a ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ for environmental management.

Here are three representative passages from the report. First, on water: given the drastic events along the Darling river this year, the following is a dire warning:

‘Metrics and thresholds currently do not exist to promptly determine when the condition of Victoria’s water resources and waterway health for reasons related to flow has deteriorated to such an extent that urgent action is required.’

Second, on fire, readers won’t be surprised to see this:

‘Biodiversity impacts from planned fires and bushfires at regional and statewide scales are currently unclear. An approach to monitor biodiversity responses (flora and fauna) to fire at multiple scales (regional and statewide) is missing.’

And lastly, on land management, in view of the current forest survey, we offer the following:

‘Various investment programs across multiple land management units have created different, inconsistent data sources and terminologies for reporting on the state of biodiversity, land and forest assets in Victoria. Data is inadequate to answer many of the critical questions about biodiversity science in Victoria. Victoria’s biodiversity science and data capability are undermined by a lack of coordination and a strategic approach to investing in the critical research that will enable an ecosystems approach to decision making and policy interventions…

‘There is only a basic understanding of the effect of land use and land-use change on soil and land in Victoria.’

Cairn Curran reservoir, March 27. The reservoir is currently at 35% capacity, compared to 64% this time last year. The environment commissioner has noted that we currently don’t know when or how poor water flow might impact on waterway health and water resources.

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