The mass coral bleaching is just one example of a far broader problem

Great Barrier Reef bleaching is just one symptom of ecosystem collapse across Australia

Coral bleaching has been seen on 93% of the reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef. (C) XL Caitlin Seaview Survey

Media reports around the world have brought the mass coral bleaching of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef into people’s offices and homes.

With 93% of individual reefs showing bleaching, the devastation among researchers, celebrities and the public is palpable.

Unfortunately, mass coral bleaching is just one example of a far broader problem. Although it represents a rapid and extensive example of ecosystem degradation, coral bleaching is not surprising: it is consistent with many changes that are occurring now across Australia’s natural environments.

Coral bleaching has been seen on 93% of the reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef. (C) XL Caitlin Seaview Survey

The degradation and death of forests

Forest dieback is increasingly common across Australia from the high country and the floodplains to the savannahs.

Our iconic trees – including the world’s tallest flowering plant, the Mountain Ash, and the most widely distributed eucalypt, the River Red Gum – are among the hardest hit.

A stark example is the floodplain forests of the Murray-Darling Basin. Reduced rainfall and water extraction for human needs have deprived River Red Gums of the flooding integral to their existence. The consequence is that 79% of forests on the Murray River have dieback. Tree graveyards are a common sight. Read more.