Potential future scenarios for Australia's native biodiversity given on-going increases in human population

David PEPPER, Hania Lada, James R. Thomson, Shuvo BAKAR, Phillip Lake, Ralph MAC NALLY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Most natural assets, including native biodiversity (our focus), are under increasing threat from direct (loss of habitat, hunting) and indirect (climate change) human actions. Most human impacts arise from increasing human populations coupled with rises in per capita resource use. The rates of change of human actions generally outpace those to which the biota can respond or adapt. If we are to maintain native biodiversity, then we must develop ways to envisage how the biota may be affected over the next several decades to guide management and policy responses. We consider the future for Australia's native biodiversity in the context of two assumptions. First, the human population in Australia will be 40 million by 2050, which has been mooted by federal government agencies. Second, greenhouse gas emissions will track the highest rates considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The scenarios are based on major drivers of change, which were constructed from seven key drivers of change pertinent to native biodiversity. Five scenarios deal with differing distributions of the human population driven by uncertainties in climate change and in the human responses to climate change. Other scenarios are governed largely by global change and explore different rates of resource use, unprecedented rates of technological change, capabilities and societal values. A narrative for each scenario is provided. The set of scenarios spans a wide range of possible future paths for Australia, with different implications for the future of native biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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