The 'green' movement has come of age in the 1990s. Governments
are gradually introducing environmentally considerate legislation,
and people around the world are beginning to care more for
the environment in which they live. Depletion of the ozone
layer, global warming, nuclear waste, deforestation and the
conservation of wildlife habitats, are modern issues that
are discussed in every classroom and mentioned in every newspaper.
Australia is among the most environmentally thoughtful nations.
It has had to be. The continent has a delicate ecosystem,
highly susceptible to the influences of man and introduced
fauna and flora. The ancient soils deficient in nutrients
require prudent use and management, and water is still a precious
commodity in most of the country.
The importance of water quality was recognised early in Australia's
history, and ignoring pollution regulations had dire consequences
for offenders. A General Order issued on 14 October 1802 to
the inhabitants of Sydney read, "If any person whatever
is detected in throwing any filth into the stream of fresh
water, cleaning fish, washing, erecting pig sites near it,
or taking water but at the tanks, on conviction before a magistrate,
their houses will be taken down and forfeit 5 pounds for each
offence to the Orphan Fund."
Considering the low average rainfall over most of the country,
the rarity of major rivers and the immense size of the island
continent, Australians today have one of the highest standards
of water supply in the world, both in quality and quantity.
In part, this is due to the large resources of underground
water, such as the Great Artesian Basin which is one of the
biggest in the world. It is also a result of good water management
practices and conscientious conservation measures due to a
historical appreciation of the value of water as a resource.
The consumption of water per head of population is however
one of the largest in the world, much of it being wasted on
European style domestic gardens ill suited to the arid climate
of most of the nation.
Nevertheless, the public participation in recycling programs
is impressive, and the consumer is quick to respond to environmental
issues with their wallets.
At government level, there have been a number of innovative
schemes. In Western Australia, country towns must re use their
effluent before being allowed to take new water from State
supplies. As a result, some 34 towns spray chlorinated effluent
on school and public sports grounds. Effluent is also utilised
in other States for golf courses, drip irrigating wine grapes
and tree growing projects.
There are also many examples of environmental care in the
private sector. For example, Australia's long involvement
in the mining of natural resources, has led to a number of
measures and techniques for the rehabilitation of mine sites
in sensitive areas. Mining companies have given high priority
to the reservation of topsoil and its organic enrichment for
re use, the replanting of native species and the use of fertilisers
and chemical stabilisers, and the introduction of shrub and
tree species. The base of knowledge in this field extends
into many disciplines, and involves companies in natural resources,
government agencies as well as the academic and research and
Australia has made many contributions to conservation and
the environment, through a wide assortment of products and
technologies. Some of the most globally significant commercially
available innovations are reviewed in the following pages.
Because of the depth and diversity of the subject matter,
the technologies included are by no means the only ones available,
but are representative of the very wide range of products
and technologies from Australia.
These include airborne scanners, asbestos removal and waste
eradication technologies, water purification and sewage treatment
systems, monitors, sensors and data loggers, as well as some
ingenious products that are helping to save wildlife and the
Due to an unresolved dispute
with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade),
who copied and adopted as their own certain material from
Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published
the material in their Australia Open for Business website,
without remorse or recompense, access
by Australian Government servers to this online edition
has been blocked indefinitely.