Australia is a mineral-rich country with low and variable rainfall and, hence, biological productivity, as well as a predominately coastal population. Since European settlement in 1788, a range of landscape impacts, species introductions, and freshwater conflicts have led to serious environmental issues. Contemporary drivers of environmental change include population growth and associated development; water use for food production; resource extraction by the fishery, forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries; and climate change. A range of international agreements have influenced domestic environmental policy, culminating in Australia's foremost piece of environmental legislation, the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Despite sound legislative instruments and policy intentions, a range of contemporary environmental issues associated with coal seam gas extraction, freshwater allocation, fisheries, and climate change illustrate that shortcomings in resolving environmental issues and obstacles remain with regard to improving the status of the environment. Given the increasing pressures on the environment, greater oversight and efficient enforcement are needed, particularly given population projections and plans for economic development.


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