1 Why is it important?

The state of the natural environment is the result of natural processes and, increasingly, the interaction of people with those processes. As population and industry increase, the natural environment comes under pressure from increased consumption of resources, increased production of pollutants (such as greenhouse gases and nutrient enrichment of stormwater and streams), and the encroachment of residential and industrial activities into natural areas. Habitat loss, fragmentation and disruption of natural systems cause a significant loss of biodiversity and can affect an area’s ability to respond to other pressures such as climate change.

The aesthetic and amenity elements of the natural environment, which may be degraded by population and economic growth, are important for human wellbeing. They are also a vital part of the economy because they attract people to move to—and remain living and working in, and enjoying—a region. The protection and enhancement of the natural environment and the careful development of industry and the built environment are essential to maintain sustainable economic growth and human welfare.

This chapter examines South Australia’s population growth and the impacts of that population on urban and regional areas. It also looks at the state’s heritage, which is an important part of the human environment.

Previous | Next