State of the Environment 2011 (SoE 2011)

The Australian State of the Environment 2011 report was tabled in Parliament on 12 December 2011.

Written by an independent committee of experts, the report presents a comprehensive review of the state and trends of the environment; the pressures on it and the drivers of those pressures; management initiatives in place to address environmental concerns and the impacts of those initiatives; its resilience and the unmitigated risks that threaten it; and provide an overall outlook for the Australian environment.

The main purpose of the report is to provide relevant and useful information on environmental issues to the public and decision-makers, in order to raise awareness and support more informed environmental management decisions that lead to more sustainable use and effective conservation of environmental assets.

For the first time in national environmental reporting, SoE 2011 goes beyond a descriptive summary of evidence to include graded 'report-card' style assessments of environment condition and trends, pressures and management effectiveness. Also new to national State of the environment reporting in 2011 are discussions of the drivers of environmental change, resilience, risks, and future projections or 'outlooks'.

Information was used from a wide range of data sources (referenced in the full report), and from extensive consultations with experts in a variety of scientific disciplines across Australia. In many cases, workshops were held with experts to gather evidence and information, discuss issues and gauge opinion.

Independent peer review was used to validate and strengthen the content of the report and supplementary technical reports.

2011 SoE Committee

SoE 2011 was written by an independent committee of experts, appointed by the Minister for the Environment in October 2009.

Chairman: Dr Tom Hatton (Director, CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship).

Members: Dr Steven Cork (research ecologist and futurist); Mr Peter Harper (Deputy Australian Statistician); Mr Rob Joy (School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University); Professor Peter Kanowski (Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU); Mr Richard Mackay (heritage specialist); Dr Neil McKenzie (Chief, CSIRO Land and Water); Dr Trevor Ward (marine and fisheries ecologist). Dr Barbara Wienecke also contributed to the report as an ex-officio member.

Factsheet: 2011 State of the Environment Committee (PDF - 542.66 KB)

Factsheet: 2011 State of the Environment Committee (DOC - 261 KB)

Secretariat and advisory services were provided to the committee by the National Environmental Reporting Section of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC). A departmental SoE Executive Panel provided senior executive support for the process.


Thomas ("Tom") Joseph Hatton Ph.D PSM is the Director of CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans Flagship. He was previously Director of the agency's Water for a Healthy Country Flagship. He has 25 years of research experience in ecohydrology and catchment hydrology and has led signifi cant environmental research projects across Australia. He was awarded the Inaugural National W.E. Wood Award for Scientific Excellence in Salinity R&D in 1999. For his work leading the Murray–Darling Sustainable Yields Assessment, he was awarded the CSIRO Chairman's Medal for Research Excellence. His contribution to water and environmental research was recognised with the Public Service Medal in the Australia Day Honours 2008.


Steven Cork Ph.D is an ecologist and futurist who spent 25 years at CSIRO researching the ecology of Australian and North American mammals and the interactions between biodiversity and human welfare. He led CSIRO's Ecosystem Services Program (1998–2002) and played a key role in writing the scenarios for the World's ecological futures for the United Nations' Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. His career has focussed strongly on interactions between science and policy and he spent five years working as a policy officer in the Australian Government's Environment Department. He is now Principal Consultant at EcoInsights, where he works as a futurist, strategist and ecological advisor. He also leads a major project on the Resilience of Australia in the private sustainability R&D organisation Australia 21.

Peter Harper is a Deputy Australian Statistician at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Peter has worked at the ABS for almost 30 years. He has been responsible for the ABS's environment statistics program since 2004, during which time there have been a number of significant developments. At the ABS, Peter is responsible for a diverse range of subject matter, including labour, demography, industry, agriculture, rural and regional and environment statistics. Peter is also actively engaged in international work relating to environment statistics, including chairing the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental Economic Accounting.

Robert Joy BA (hons), MSc, MEnvSci, Dip Ed, is Adjunct Professor at the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University. He is the appointed independent site supervisor for the Gunns pulp mill development in Tasmania, Chairman of Greenfleet Australia and former Deputy Chairman of EPA Victoria. He has 25 years of experience in policy development and program delivery in environment protection and resource management.

Peter Kanowski is Professor of Forestry in The Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University. He has been researching, teaching and working in forest and environmental policy for 20 years, initially at Oxford University and subsequently at ANU. Peter's research and teaching cover a range of topics, including plantation and farm forestry, forest conservation and management, environmental policy and forest genetics. Peter was a panel member in the 2003–4 COAG National Bushfire Inquiry and a contributor to the 2006 Australian State of Environment report.

Richard Mackay AM is a partner of Godden Mackay Logan Pty Ltd, Heritage Consultants and Adjunct Professor in the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University. He has over 20 years experience in cultural resource management and is a member of the Order of Australia for services to heritage and archaeology. He is currently a member of the Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee and the deputy chairman of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Advisory Committee. He was previously a Director of the NSW National Trust, a member of the Heritage Council of NSW and of the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter Working Party.

Neil McKenzie Ph.D is Chief of CSIRO Land and Water. Neil has 25 years of research experience in soil science. His research has focused on quantitative methods for mapping soil and land resources. Neil is actively involved in shaping public policy on scientific aspects of land and water resource management in Australia. He is also playing a lead role internationally in establishing a global soil information system to ensure more informed responses to food security, carbon dynamics and environmental management more generally.

Trevor Ward Ph.D is an independent Perth-based marine ecologist specialising in performance assessment systems for marine ecosystems and biodiversity. He provides strategic policy and technical advice to government agencies, fisheries managers, conservation groups and local communities worldwide on the conservation and sustainable management of marine ecosystems and fisheries. He is widely published in marine ecology and environmental management, and in 1996 was jointly awarded the CSIRO Australia Chairman's Medal for excellence in marine science. He currently holds appointments as Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

Ex officio member

Barbara Wienecke Ph.D is a research scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division. She has studied the foraging ecology of penguins and other seabirds for over 20 years. Since 1993, she has spent many seasons in Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic and South America and has published the results of her work in international journals and books. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Ornithology, the Cooper Ornithological Society and of Birds Australia.