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From Little Things Big Things Grow

Members of the Big Scrub Landcare Group have planted the key structuring species to restore areas of rainforest on land that had been cleared for farming, adding about 300 ha of habitat. Courtesy of Big Scrub Landcare

Members of the Big Scrub Landcare Group have planted the key structuring species to restore areas of rainforest on land that had been cleared for farming, adding about 300 ha of habitat. Courtesy of Big Scrub Landcare

By Ian Lowe

About 100 million hectares of forest have been lost globally in the past 25 years, but one Landcare group has increased a patch of rainforest lost to farmland by 40% in 20 years.

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Loss of biodiversity is a critical issue, both locally and globally. More than 20 years ago, the first independent national report on the state of the environment identified the seriousness of the problem. The warning has been echoed by four subsequent reports.

At the global level, the 2018 Living Planet Report estimated the population levels of more than 4000 species of vertebrates: fish, birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles. It concluded that average populations are only about 40% of the 1970 levels.

One startling calculation compared the mass of mammals living in the wild with the mass of humans and domesticated animals. It estimated that only 4% of the mass of mammals living today comprises animals in natural surroundings, with humans now 36% of the total and our livestock the remaining 60%.

The main reason for the loss of biodiversity is the destruction of habitat. The 2017 follow-up to the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity estimated that about 100 million ha of forest have been lost in the past 25 years. We can’t do much about the depressing global situation, but two events late last year reminded me that good work is being done to maintain and restore natural areas in Australia.

The Big Scrub Rainforest Day is an annual celebration of the work being done to restore what was a huge area of lowland rainforest in north-eastern New...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.