7. Land

7.1 Background

Global threats to land health

The air, water and land in our environment are linked, so we need to care of all of them to create a healthy world. Caring for the land is important as it affects all other aspects of the environment.

Land clearing, and the resulting vegetation loss, is one of the world’s biggest environmental problems. It destroys habitat and food sources, impacting on biodiversity (see Biodiversity section), separates connected landscapes, causes erosion and can pollute waterways (see Water section). Clearing large areas of land also reduces the amount of carbon that can be taken up by trees and stored in the soil, contributing to climate change.

Australia is one of the worst 10 countries for deforestation. The clearing has been predominantly in Queensland, where between 2015 and 2016 there were 395,000 hectares of land cleared. This is more than total area of the ACT (235,800 hectares).

Drier conditions combined with eroded soils lead to more frequent dust storms that can reduce air quality and affect people with asthma and allergies (see Air pollution section). As our climate continues to change, we also need to consider how to manage land under different conditions.

Housing development at Coombs in the ACT. Photo: Ryan Colley