24 May 2018


A new report has found Australians’ concern about the state of Australia’s environment is rising, with four out of five Australians saying that we should ‘act now’ on environmental problems.

The Backyard Barometer is the first report to track the nation’s attitudes towards the environment over a 20-year period, combined with a new Roy Morgan survey of 1,800 Australians. It shows Australians have a strong affinity with our forests, beaches, oceans and wildlife, and overwhelmingly support more action to protect Australia’s natural habitats. 

“WWF is committed to building our understanding of how Australians relate to the natural world. It has been encouraging to see such a strong sense of ownership among Australians when it comes to their ‘big backyard’ with issues such as the Great Barrier Reef, climate change, plastic pollution and tree clearing already front of mind,” said Dermot O’Gorman, Chief Executive Officer, WWF Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is the top environmental issue

Protecting the Great Barrier Reef is the top environmental issue for Australians, with 94 per cent saying its protection is “important”. However, 84 per cent say the overall state of the Great Barrier Reef is “declining” or “getting worse” compared to 10 years ago. Almost half of Australians (44 per cent) say the Reef is in terminal decline, with coral bleaching and climate change seen as the top two threats.

Wildlife and Trees prominent

Protecting Australia’s endangered animals, forests and trees ranked second in terms of environmental issues, with 93 per cent of Australians saying their protection is important.

When it comes to the species Australians most want to see protected, koalas top the list, followed by whales and bilbies.

Backyard Barometer confirms that spending time in the ‘great outdoors’ is part of the Australian way of life. In the past two years, three in four Australians have visited a national park or nature reserve. But there are concerns about the future, with 82 per cent saying that they worried younger Australians will grow up with less access to nature and wildlife.

According to the report, 89 per cent of respondents agreed that there should be investment in restoring wildlife habitats and natural places that have become degraded. For example, 81 per cent agreed that there is a need to grow more trees than we cut down.

Australians are taking action

The Backyard Barometer found recycling and composting is now commonplace, with 86 per cent of Australians saying they are regularly recycling/composting as much household waste as possible to help the environment.

“Australians aren’t just thinking about the environment, they are taking matters into their own hands by recycling and composting. Looking ahead, switching to renewable energy and installing solar are the top two environmental actions Australians are likely to take in the near future,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of Australians say they have already switched to environmentally friendly products.

“Setting a benchmark for national data in regards to environmental perceptions, this report will lay the foundations for measuring the changing attitudes of Australians towards their natural environment for many years to come,” said Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan.

Share photos and stories of what you’re proud of in your own backyard using the #mybackyard hashtag.