State of the Environment Report 2007

The State of the Environment Report: Western Australia 2007 reports on the condition of the State's environment, the major environmental issues facing the State, and identifies what we are doing, and should be doing, to improve the environment for now and in the future.

Chapter headings are linked to pdfs of the relevant section for download.

The EPA encourages all West Australians to consider the report and to develop appropriate actions in response.



1.0 Fundamental pressures

1.1 Population and consumption

Key findings

  • WA's population has grown by 1.7% per year over the past decade - approximately 30% faster than the national average.
  • There is growing demand for WA's natural resources domestically and overseas due to economic development, population growth and increasing personal levels of consumption.
  • Western Australians have amongst the largest ecological footprints (a measure of consumption) in the world.

1.2 Climate change

Key findings

  • Climate change is happening now. Most of the climate changes over the past 100 years can be attributed to human activities.
  • Average temperatures across WA have increased 0.8°C over the past 100 years.
  • Sea level has risen 15 cm at Fremantle over the past 100 years and will continue to rise.
  • Average winter rainfall in the South West has dropped 15% over the past 30 years. In contrast, average annual rainfall in parts of the Pilbara and Kimberley has increased.
  • WA's net greenhouse gas emissions increased 17% between 1990 and 2005. If land use concessions are excluded, then emissions have increased 45% over the same period.
  • WA's environment is highly vulnerable to climate change and the State's natural resources, biodiversity, industry and human health are at risk, and in some instances are already being affected.

2.0 Atmosphere

Key findings

  • Air quality monitoring for public health reasons is limited to five locations within WA that have been selected using a risk-based approach.
  • Levels of measured atmospheric pollutants occasionally fail to meet national guidelines - mostly for photochemical smog and haze in Perth, and for particulates in some regional areas.

3.0 Land

Key findings

  • There is inadequate information about WA soil and landform condition.
  • Vegetation cover, which provides a protective layer for land, decreased in 64% of monitored bioregions in the South West between 1996 and 2004.
  • Vegetation cover decreased in 22% of monitored bioregions in the rangelands over the last decade.

4.0 Inland waters

Key findings

  • About 80% of Western Australia's estuaries are in good condition.
  • Only about 30% of the State's major rivers are in good condition.
  • Only 17% of remaining wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain have high conservation significance.
  • Wetland vegetation on the Swan Coastal Plain is being lost or degraded at the rate of about two football ovals per day. Monitoring and management of inland waters is generally inadequate.

5.0 Biodiversity

Key findings

  • At a national level, Western Australia has eight of 12 Australian biodiversity hotspots.
  • At a global level, the South West is recognised as one of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots.
  • WA currently has 362 threatened plants, 199 threatened animals and 69 threatened ecological communities.
  • Recovery plans have been developed for less than one-third of threatened species and ecological communities.
  • There is ongoing loss and degradation of biodiversity in WA.
  • Knowledge about many species and ecosystems and some threats to biodiversity remains inadequate.

6.0 Marine

Key findings

  • Monitoring of the condition of Western Australia's marine environment is extremely limited.
  • Cockburn Sound has received the most management attention and there has been no significant change in its condition since 2000.
  • There are growing pressures on the marine environment from increased shipping, ports, coastal developments, runoff and associated contaminants.

7.0 Human Settlements

Key findings

  • Western Australia's current form of urban development is placing considerable pressure on the environment.
  • The capacity to manage environmental impacts of WA's settlements is constrained by many small communities scattered over a vast area.

8.0 Heritage

Key findings

  • Statutory recognition of heritage and its governance arrangements are fragmented. Both are significantly impeding the effective protection and management of heritage in WA.
  • There is no single, formal list of heritage places in WA available to determine the total number of heritage places.
  • There is a distinct lack of monitoring and reporting for heritage places and this is impacting on the quality of heritage management decisions.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests the condition of some heritage places is declining.

9.0 Towards sustainability

10.0 Appendix