Salinity problems

Subject: Salinity problems
From: Stephen Ambrose <>
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 13:29:35 +1000
I?ve just finished reading a very sobering article in this week?s -?Weekend
Australian Magazine? about Australia?s salinity problems in rural
Australia. The story is entitled ?White Death? and written by the
journalist, Nicolas Rothwell. If you haven?t yet read it, then I would
advise you to do so.

As most of you will probably know, the soil salinity problem is caused by
the removal of native vegetation, resulting in a rise in the water table,
which in turn brings salt to the ground surface.

The statistics presented in the article are horrifying:


Area affected by salt  Area affected by salt  Probable area affected in
1982 (ha)          in 1996 (ha)      if no action (ha)

WA        264,000               1,804,000                  6,109,000
SA         55,000                 402,000                    600,000
VIC        90,000                 140,000                    Unknown
NSW       Unknown                 175,000                  5,000,000
TAS       Unknown                  20,000                    Unknown
QLD       Unknown                  10,000                  74,000
NT        Unknown               Minor                Unknown

Most of us are aware of the salinity crisis in Australia and as, people
interested in birds, we are also aware of the effects it has on the
conservation of birds and their habitats. Nevertheless, it is heartening to
see that the issue has been picked up by the mainstream national media.
This magazine article aimed to shock the reader by presenting the facts,
along with graphic photographic images of salt-affected landscapes and
wetlands, but without any emotional rhetoric.

It is certainly worth a read, and we should use it as a tool in promoting
conservation in rural areas of mainland southern Australia while we have
the public's attention.

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Research Manager

Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union)
Australian Bird Research Centre
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East,
VIC   3123.

Tel:    +61 3 9882 2622
Fax:    +61 3 9882 2677
Email: S. Ambrose <>  (at work)
        <>  (at home)

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