Thursday 28 July 2022, Sydney: The recent release of the State of Environment (SOE) Report by Australian Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, has highlighted the urgent key issues facing our environment – many of which the Australian Museum (AM) is focussed on. Produced every five years by the Australian Federal Government, the review is completed by 32 scientists. The latest SOE Report reveals rapid declines in biodiversity and changing climates, two priority areas of focus for the AM’s world-leading science, exhibitions and education programs.

The AM’s science research – which spans nearly 200 years – is recording the biodiversity of the Pacific region and impacts of climate change. As the custodian of the largest collection in the Southern Hemisphere – made up of 22 million objects and specimens – and with more than 100 scientists working at the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) and Australian Museum Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef, the AM has a unique ability to see, understand and communicate how climate change is impacting the environment over time.

Coral Bleaching at Lizard Island
Coral bleaching off Lizard Island in 2016 Image: Lyle Vail
© Australian Museum

Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, said that by studying the collection, AM scientists use these specimens and objects to research, communicate and apply understanding into Australia’s past biodiversity, and that these findings can help inform future conservation decisions about the Australian environment to change the trajectory and increase Australia’s long-term sustainability.

“There is no doubt Australia is facing critical challenges with climate change and biodiversity loss, as revealed in the latest SOE Report and experienced firsthand by many Australians with the recent devastating floods and bushfires, with trillions of animals estimated to have been lost as a result,” McKay AO said.

“The AM is devastated by the impacts of these events and is dedicated to raising awareness about the current state of the environment to drive change. One of the saddest experiences is looking in the extinction cabinet in the AMRI mammalogy collection area, which contains specimens from 22 extinct species of Australian animals ranging in size from the dog-sized Thylacine to tiny native mice. This reference serves as a reminder that Australia holds the record for losing more mammal species to extinction than any other continent,” McKay added.

Burnt forest in the Blue Mountains
Burnt forest in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Image: Jodi Rowley
© Jodi Rowley

Australian Museum Research Institute Chief Scientist Professor Kristofer Helgen said he would like to see stronger environmental legislation put in place to save Australia’s biodiversity and that many of the species in danger don’t have time to wait.

We don’t want any longer to be the country of extinction, we don’t want any longer to be the country that is not seen to be scrambling on all fronts to be responding to threats to the Great Barrier Reef. Australian Museum Research Institute Chief Scientist Professor Kristofer Helgen

As trusted a trusted source in the community, the AM has a vital role to play in inspiring the public to take action to help protect our planet – one of the key takeaways of the SOE Report. The AM will continue to draw on its rich scientific expertise and data sets to provide conservation advice, highlight climate solutions and share First Nations practices for caring for Country, to inspire our visitors to act now.

Together, we can help change the trajectory and increase Australia’s long-term sustainability. Join us:

About the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It is internationally recognised as a natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. The AM’s mission is to ignite wonder, inspire debate and drive change. The AM’s vision is to be a leading voice for the richness of life, the Earth and culture in Australia and the Pacific. The AM commits to transforming the conversation around climate change, the environment and wildlife conservation; to being a strong advocate for First Nations cultures; and to continuing to develop world-leading science, collections, exhibitions and education programs. With 22 million objects and specimens and the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM is not only a dynamic source of reliable scientific information on some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges facing our region, but also an important site of cultural exchange and learning.

Media Contact

Claire Vince, Media and Communications Adviser

T 0468 726 910

E Claire.Vince@Australian.Museum