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Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends 2006 comprises two main parts, a feature article (the issue) and trends. The first part, a feature article, focuses strongly on the economic and other values that can be placed on Australia's environment and natural resources. Each release will feature a component area of environmental concern. This year, solid waste is the feature. Articles aim to provide relevant statistical facts surrounding the issue, together with context and explanation through highlighting relevant environmental developments. It is the intention that the topic will change every edition, with some topics refreshed as new data become available. Thus, each edition will remain responsive to contemporary concerns and a more comprehensive picture of Australian environmental conditions will accumulate across editions.
The second part, the trends section, is broken into five discrete areas that encapsulate major environmental indicators of interest to Australians. These are: Population and urban trends, Human activity trends, Landscape trends, Atmosphere trends and Water trends. The main data sources used in the trends sections are included at the bottom of the tables and graphs or referenced at the bottom of each page.
A key aspect of the publication is its readability. Information is deliberately presented in non-technical language that can be readily understood by the general reader. Statistics are organised to illustrate specific issues and to highlight the meaning behind the data, and the main patterns and exceptions.
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS AND PROGRESS
Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends complements the ABS publication, Measures of Australia's Progress (MAP) (ABS cat. no. 1370.0). MAP presents a suite of indicators for reporting on economic, social and environmental progress and considers the interrelationships between these aspects of life. MAP 2006 used six headline indicators across three headline dimensions to discuss progress in the health of the environment: the natural landscape (biodiversity, land, water), air and atmosphere, and oceans and estuaries. In addition, MAP presents a number of supplementary and other indicators.
It should be noted that there is no definitive set of indicators that encapsulate progress in the environmental domain. Any suite cannot fully reveal the total picture of Australia's environment. Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends extends both the breadth and depth of the environmental investigation presented in MAP.
Looking at indicators is useful for the following:
Where data have not been kept current or updated in the past five years, generally they have been omitted for this year's publication, but may be re-introduced in a later edition if the data are updated and available as a time series.