Deforestation in Australia: 10 alarming facts

Deforestation in Australia: 10 alarming facts

These stats show Australia's in the midst of a deforestation crisis that's affecting our wildlife, climate & future.

Australia is a hotspot for global deforestation. We're #1 in the world for mammal extinction, #2 for biodiversity loss. Even our iconic koalas are now endangered. These 10 facts prove Australia needs to take urgent action on deforestation NOW.

10 shocking facts about deforestation in Australia

...and why we need new nature laws now.

  1. Australia is facing a deforestation crisis, with an area equivalent to MCG being destroyed every 86 seconds. 🕙 Deforestation is when humans significantly damage, alter or destroy forest—usually by bulldozing or logging.* 🚜
  2. Only 50% of Australia's forests and bushlands remain intact compared to pre-European arrival. 🌳
  3. Australia has lost 27% of its rainforest, 19% of open forest, 11% of woodland forest, and 28% of mallee forest since 1750.🪵
  4. Australia holds the record for the highest number of mammal extinctions globally. 🌏
  5. To date, 55 wildlife species and 37 plant species have gone extinct in Australia.💔

    Photo: Koala in tree by Paul Hilton

  6. Habitat loss is the biggest threat to koalas in Queensland and New South Wales. 🐨
  7. Our analysis of the last five years of SLATS data found that 66% of deforestation and land clearing in Queensland is to create pastures to graze cattle for beef. 🐂
  8. From 2019-2020, 147,575 ha of land clearing activity in Queensland within mapped known and likely koala habitat was for the purposes of raising cattle for beef. 🥩
  9. Carbon emissions released by land clearing across Australia are equivalent to about a third of the total emissions released by all of the coal-fired power stations in the country. Once native forest logging emissions are included, this is equivalent to at least half the carbon pollution of all Australian coal-fired power stations. 🏭
  10. Increasing demand for deforestation-free commodity supply chains is putting pressure on Australia's supply chains with the highest deforestation risk to adopt sustainable practices. 📝

5 ways you can help

*The Wilderness Society defines 'deforestation' as:

Loss of natural forest as a result of:
i) conversion to a non-forest land use;
ii) conversion to a plantation forest; or
iii) human activity that reduces forest species composition, structure or function so that it is significantly ecologically and structurally different from the primary forest of the site.
Includes conversion for agriculture, resources and mining, infrastructure, urban development and thinning of forests for non-forest uses.


  1. Calculations are based on 746,677 hectares of deforestation and land clearing in 2018-19 across Australia, 2,045 hectares per day, 85 hectares per hour, 1.42 hectares per minute. 1.42 hectares/60 seconds x 86 seconds = 2.03 hectares = close to the 2.02 hectare area of the MCG.
  2. Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (2012) Vegetation Assets, States and Transitions—2008 dataset. Accessed July 2017. In this report, intact refers to residual vegetation communications in the dataset; cleared refers to replaced and removed; and degraded refers to modified and transformed. Analysis of data by The Wilderness Society.
  3. Analysis by the Wilderness Society of supplementary material provided with Tulloch A, et al (2015) Understanding the importance of small patches of habitat for conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53(2): 418-429.
  4. Woinarski J, et al (2015) Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(5): 4531-4540. Additionally, as at 4/9/20, the IUCN Red List database contained 84 extinct mammals across the world. Of these, 25 were from Australia plus another 3 were from Christmas Island. This is the highest number of extinct mammals recorded in any country globally.
  5. Australian Government (2021) EPBC Act List of threatened fauna. And Australian Government (2021) EPBC Act List of threatened flora.
  6. According to the Queensland Government's own Species Technical Committee Report into the impact of land clearing on threatened species, “Habitat loss is the most serious threat to koalas in Queensland and New South Wales (Martin and Handasyde 1999).” The report states that clearing leads to many direct deaths whilst also exposing koalas to additional threatening processes through habitat fragmentation. Species Technical Committee and Laidlaw MJ (2017) Scientific review of the impacts of land clearing on threatened species in Queensland. Queensland Government, Brisbane.
  7. The Wilderness Society (2019) Drivers of deforestation and land clearing in Queensland. See also Queensland Government SLATS report
  8. The Wilderness Society (2022) Drivers of deforestation and land clearing in Queensland. See also Queensland Government SLATS report
  9. The Wilderness Society (2017) Towards Zero Deforestation.
  10. The Wilderness Society (2019) Australian beef and deforestation: Corporate scorecard.

Additional references: State of the Environment report 2021

Deforestation explained

Deforestation explained

Everything you need to know about the deforestation crisis taking place across Australia.