New studies show the wildly disproportionate effect humans have had on life on Earth.

Our planet’s 7.6 billion humans represent just 0.01 per cent of all living things, but that one species has caused the loss of 83 per cent of all wild mammals and half of plants, according to research from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The work was based on comprehensive estimates of the weight of every class of living creature.

Researchers calculated biomass using data from hundreds of studies, which used a range of techniques including satellite imagery and gene sequencing.

They assessed the biomass of different classes of organisms and mapped them against environments that such life could live in across the world.

Using carbon as the key measure, they found all life on Earth contains 550 billion tonnes of the element.

The analysts say bacteria make up 13 per cent of life on Earth, while plants represent 82 per cent That leaves all other creatures from insects and fungi to the largest quadrupeds, making up just 5 per cent of the world’s biomass.

“I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass,” said lead author Professor Ron Milo.

“I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth.”

Human activity has had such a profound, system-wide effect that some scientists consider this a new geological era – the Anthropocene.

The rise of corollary species such as the domestic chicken is considered one marker of the new era.

The study in question estimates poultry now makes up 70 per cent of all birds on the planet, leaving just 30 per cent in the wild.

Around 60 per cent of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36 per cent are human and 4 per cent are wild animals.

“It is pretty staggering,” said Prof Milo.

“In wildlife films, we see flocks of birds, of every kind, in vast amounts, and then when we did the analysis we found there are [far] more domesticated birds.

“It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth.

“When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken.”

When the new estimates are compared with those for the time before humans became farmers, the study shows just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain today.

“Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms,” Prof Milo said.

“I would hope people would take this [work] as part of their world view of how they consume.

“I have not become vegetarian, but I do take the environmental impact into my decision making, so it helps me think, do I want to choose beef or poultry or use tofu instead?”

It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that I am letting you know of Cohen’s death.  She was found dead at the base of a tree on the morning  of the 18th May.  Dr Jon Hanger did a post mortem and her death  was due to acute toxaemia secondary to her immunodeficiency issues.  She had a strong survival instinct struggling with her health problems and wanting to survive and this showed as her body condition was the same as when she was released.  Apparently her death was sudden.  Over the previous weeks her activity levels were high, she was bright, alert and had been moving around well.  
She had been doing well in her pre release enclosure which was why she was released into the wild on the 17th April even though she had some underlying health issues  Dr Hanger said there were no oral lesions in her mouth and could not detect Candida.  Cohen was not suffering and it was likely illness occurred in the last few days.   
I have been going over everything I have done and questioned whether I did the right thing in letting her go.   Even if I could have found a way to keep her with me the outcome may have been the same.  Cohen was a gentle, beautiful  wild koala and needed to be free to be what nature intended her to be.  That doesn’t stop me from wishing things could have been different.  Cohen was a very special koala and I did so want her to have a long and happy life. 
Thanks Vanda

Vanda, was Guest Speaker at BIEPA’s November 2014 meeting.
See BIEPA News November 2014 attached for your information.
Since then, we’ve included some updates on how Vanda’s little koalas have been doing.
We also included information on how our members can support our koala carers in the incredible work they do on a daily basis.
If you are so inclined to make a donation to this work, please go to :  and follow the links to DONATIONS.

NewsItem Link


Swaths of native forest near Great Barrier Reef set to be bulldozed
Nicole Hasham, 12 May 2018


Federal officials plan to back the destruction of almost 2000 hectares of pristine Queensland forest in a move that threatens the Great Barrier Reef and undermines a $500 million Turnbull government rescue package for the natural wonder.

A draft report by the Department of the Environment and Energy recommends that the government allow the mass vegetation clearing at Kingvale Station on Cape York Peninsula. The area to be bulldozed is almost three times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne.

Old growth forest in the vicinity of Kingvale Station, near rivers that flow into the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy Australian Conservation Foundation.
Old growth forest in the vicinity of Kingvale Station, near rivers that flow into the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy Australian Conservation Foundation.

The draft recommendation comes despite the department conceding the native forest is likely to contain endangered species, and despite expert warnings that runoff caused by the clearing may damage the reef.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg will make a final ruling on the proposal. It will test his long-stated willingness to protect the reef from poor water quality, which is triggered by land clearing.

Last month the government announced it would spend more than $500 million to protect the reef, including $201 million to improve water quality through better farming practices.

A rejection of the Kingvale proposal would put Mr Frydenberg at odds with Queensland Coalition MPs who have vocally backed the plan.

Kingvale Station owner Scott Harris wants to clear the land – mostly eucalypt forest and melaleuca swamplands – to make way for cropping and other activities.

The former Queensland Newman government approved the work in April 2014. However the federal government determined that the clearing must also be assessed under Commonwealth laws.

The government’s own experts warned the land clearing proposal may damage the Great Barrier Reef.

The government’s own experts warned the land clearing proposal may damage the Great Barrier Reef.

The department’s draft report, on which submissions closed this week, concluded the proposal should be approved, subject to conditions. A final recommendation will be made when submissions are considered.

Conditions include that clearing be limited to 1846 hectares and only take place on flat land to “manage the risks” of erosion and sedimentation. Clearing should not occur within 100 metres of a watercourse or wetland, contour banks must be used to manage water flow and erosion should be repaired before each wet season.

The proponent told the department the land clearing would not cause damage to the reef.

The clearing is proposed on land that drains into two rivers that run into the Great Barrier Reef 200 kilometres downstream.

The draft recommendation comes despite a government-commissioned expert warning that soil erosion from the work was “likely to contribute to poor water quality” in the reef world heritage area.

Forest at the Kingvale Station, where more than 1800 hectares is set to be cleared. Photo courtesy Australian Conservation Foundation.
Forest at the Kingvale Station, where more than 1800 hectares is set to be cleared. Photo courtesy Australian Conservation Foundation.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority also said that during floods the clearing “is almost guaranteed” to result in fine sediment entering Princess Charlotte Bay, where the rivers meet the reef.

Poor water quality is one of the most pressing problems facing the reef. It is largely caused by nutrient, pesticide and sediment run-off from agriculture. It can cause algal growth at the expense of coral, block light and smother corals, as well as exacerbate outbreaks of the venomous crown-of-thorns starfish, which are a major cause of coral loss.

The department also concluded that the clearing would affect a host of endangered species including the Northern quoll, and loggerhead and leatherback turtles.

The department said endangered loggerhead turtles may be affected by the proposal.
The department said endangered loggerhead turtles may be affected by the proposal.
Photo: Brian Skerry/National Geographic
Despite the concerns raised, the department concluded the likely impacts of the clearing “will not be unacceptable” if conditions were adhered to.

The department said the proponent had been charged in Queensland over illegal land clearing at another of his properties, Strathmore Station. But because the charges had not been heard by a court, the department “does not have evidence that the proponent has any established unsatisfactory record of environmental management”.

The department has been under political pressure to green-light the proposal.

In August 2016 then Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said there was insufficient evidence to determine that the clearing would damage water quality in the reef.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg will make a final ruling on the proposal.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg will make a final ruling on the proposal.
The same month, Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan told The Australian newspaper that landowners should not have to face two levels of environmental assessment, adding that the federal scrutiny of the Kingvale plan discouraged development.

Cairns MP Warren Entsch told the newspaper he had contacted Mr Frydenberg to “ask what the bloody hell is going [on] … you can’t get development in these areas without land clearing’’.

Australian Conservation Foundation policy analyst James Trezise said it was “astounding” that the government was pouring money into water quality improvements while planning to “wave through more of the destruction causing the damage”.

He said approving the proposal would also set a dangerous precedent by deeming that tree clearing on flat land did not pose a runoff risk.

The Wilderness Society’s Queensland campaign manager Gemma Plesman said the proposed clearing was “incredibly risky”.

“Over the past four years Queensland has cleared one million hectares of native vegetation because the former Newman Government axed important environment protections. This bulldozing plan … must be rejected,” she said.

A spokesman for Mr Frydenberg said the department’s draft report “proposed strict conditions and mitigation measures informed by expert scientific advice”.

All feedback will be considered by the department as it finalises its recommendation, he said.



Nicole Hasham is environment and immigration correspondent for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WAtoday.





Your Invitation – AELA Earth Arts Creative Retreat
15-18 June 2018, Chenrezig Institute, Sunshine Coast


You are invited to a special four-day intensive arts retreat that provides the tools and knowledge, in a well-paced program, to re-imagine our relationships with the interconnected community of life.


The Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) invites interested people to come together to develop deep thinking, activity plans, artworks, resources and initiatives based on Earth jurisprudence. Earth jurisprudence is a new legal theory and growing social movement. It proposes that we rethink the underpinning governance structures of industrialised society – including our legal, political and economic systems – so that they support, rather than undermine, the integrity and health of the Earth community.


AELA’s Earth Arts Retreat involves experienced practitioners sharing their skills and knowledge to assist you to explore and research Earth jurisprudence and its links to art and governance. You will be provided with a space to reflect, devise, instigate,
collaborate and activate ideas about Earth centred governance and legal systems that recognise the rights of nature.







You will be guided by expert facilitators from the fields of Indigenous knowledge,
contemporary law/governance, environmental humanities, the arts and social activism to comprehensively explore the challenges that confront us. Areas to be covered include:


  • How to create and embed an Earth centred paradigm in Australian society
  • How arts and other creative processes can inform, delight and stimulate people to shift from human-centred to Earth-centred perspectives
  • How to collaborate effectively, to build on AELA’s success in increasing understanding about Earth centred law and governance in Australia.


The aims of the retreat are to:

  • Provide interaction with experts in the fields of Earth laws, governance,
  • Indigenous knowledge systems and ecology
  • Provide a space to develop outputs in individual and collaborative processes
  • Provide opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback and individual reflection to assist with developing specific outputs as well as overall practice areas
  • Build a networked community capable of using the language and ideas associated with Earth jurisprudence and to support individual efforts to use them within the broader arts and general communities
  • Share a range of techniques to help develop skills in planning and collaborating with participants, and to activate audiences involved with these processes and the outputs of them.
  • Devise strategies and implement plans to embed this creative work in the working of communities and mainstream educational opportunities



Please email your expression of interest to us by 15th May 2018.  Just send us a short email, telling us about why you’d like to attend the retreat and what your arts practice or creative interests are.

Places are limited to 20 participants, and we have 10 places left.


For more information please visit AELA’s Earth Arts website.
If you have any questions, please contact: [email protected]


All the best,
The AELA Earth Arts teamMichelle Maloney, Jenny Brown and James Lee
3 May 2018