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‘State of the Environment’ reporting is the internationally accepted method for assessing environmental performance. Like many other countries, Australia adopts the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pressure–state–response approach to state of the environment reporting. Queensland also adopts this approach.

This is Queensland’s eighth State of the Environment report and the third to be prepared in a web-based format. This format allows users to interact within a web-based environment, interrogating spatial data and maps with regionally-specific interpretive text, tables, graphs and charts. The data is harvested from a range of thematic sources, and compiled, interpreted and published through the Queensland Government open data portal.

This report covers the period from 2018 to the end of the 2020 financial year, and meets the legislative requirements of both the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995.

This report is structured around five themes — Biodiversity, Heritage, Pollution, Climate and Liveability. Each theme is divided into sub-themes against which a total of 153 indicators, mainly relating to extent and condition (state), and pressures, are reported on. There are also two cross-cutting composite themes — Great Barrier Reef and Climate Change. It also includes an outline of the actions or initiatives undertaken to protect, maintain and restore environmental assets, as well as those that prevent, mitigate or adapt to changes in the environment.

Queensland State of the Environment 2020 Summary (PDF, 12.9 MB) provides an overview and presents the key findings as infographics.

This report also includes cutting edge themes, such as mapping its indicators and management responses to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, explaining the circular economy model, and introducing Queenslanders to environmental-economic accounts. This approach establishes a framework that will enable future reports to adopt methodologies that integrate economic and environmental data to provide a more comprehensive and multipurpose view of the interactions between the economy and the environment, and benefits that flow to humanity.

The structure of this report is as follows:


The variety of life — its biological diversity — is commonly referred to as biodiversity. The number of species of plants and animals, and the different ecosystems such as deserts, rainforests and coral reefs, are all part of a biologically diverse Queensland.

Queensland’s landscape is vast, covering an estimated area of 172.8 million hectares. The mainland coastline is about 6,900km in length and features 1,165 offshore islands and cays.

The Biodiversity theme is separated into the following sub-themes and topics:


Queensland’s historic heritage places, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage, and World Heritage properties, contribute to our sense of place, reinforce our identity, and help define what it means to be a Queenslander. We owe it both to our forebears and future generations to conserve the heritage places, areas and objects that define Queensland’s story.

The Heritage theme is separated into the following sub-themes and topics:


Pollution can affect human health, impact the environment and result in economic costs.

The Pollution theme is separated into the following sub-themes:

Air quality is a measure of the purity of the atmosphere.

Water quality is commonly defined by its physical, chemical, biological and aesthetic characteristics.

A greenhouse gas is a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, and increased greenhouse gas emissions causes global warming.

All forms of pollution can cause harm to our native species and their habitat, and impact on the scenic amenity of Queensland’s natural areas.


Climate is the synthesis of day-to-day atmospheric conditions for a locality over a long period of time (often summarised in terms of months, seasons, years or longer), while weather refers to the state of the atmosphere at or for a brief period of time.

The Climate theme is separated into the following sub-themes:

Climate and oceans are interconnected. Changes in the coupling of the global ocean and climate systems are already having substantial and important ramifications on the world’s coasts and oceans.

Seasonal variations, such as the location and intensity of the summer monsoon and year-to-year fluctuations in the global climate system related to the El NiƱo Southern Oscillation phenomenon, strongly influence Queensland’s climate.


Liveability reports on human settlements, which can be a major driver of environmental change, putting pressure on the natural environment.

The Liveability theme is separated into the following sub-themes:

Urban areas are home to the majority of Queenslanders, and rural areas support regional and rural communities and industries. The way population growth and expansion occurs can affect our communities’ quality of life. It can also cause changes in land use, not just in urban areas, but also in adjacent rural locations.

Good design and planning is essential for creating more liveable urban and rural areas while reducing impacts on the environment.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef theme provides an overview about the health and condition of this treasured icon. By better understanding the challenges and pressures on the reef, we can develop appropriate responses to help increase the reef’s resilience and preserve it for future generations.

This is a composite theme, which collates information and data from a number of other sub-themes within the report:

Climate Change

The Climate Change theme provides information about the overall threat and impact Climate Change is having on Queensland’s natural and built environment.

Climate change refers to variations in average weather conditions and patterns that last for an extended period of time, including decades and even centuries.

By shifting and amplifying natural climatic conditions, climate change affects both the natural and built environments.

This is a composite theme, which collates information and data from a number of other sub-themes within the report:

Explore. Share. Learn. Queensland’s State of the Environment Report 2020 is more than just a report — it’s a resource.