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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Land

LAND USE

Almost two-thirds (63%) of land in Australia has been modified for human use, primarily grazing on natural vegetation (BRS 2010a). Clearing of native vegetation continues to occur for agriculture, plantation forestry, and urban development (DEWHA 2006a).

The different types of land use vary in the degree of pressure that they place on the environment. Generally environmental impacts increase as land use intensifies: from grazing of natural vegetation, to dryland agriculture and plantations, and irrigated agriculture. Intensive use, such as that associated with mining and urban development, involve the greatest level of modification and these generally have the greatest environmental impact.

Intensive uses account for less than 1% of total land use, however the impact is often highly concentrated. For example, the environmental impacts of urban development are a major concern in coastal areas where growing populations are increasing the demand for housing near the coast (DEWHA 2006a).

Grazing accounts for just over half of all land use. Environmental issues associated with sheep and cattle grazing include habitat loss, surface soil loss, salinity, and soil and water quality issues.

Land classified as "conservation and natural environments" account for just over a third of Australia's area. About 12% is formally protected in reserves or protected areas (ABS 2010).

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