The State of the Tropics, a 500-page report, is the result of a three-year collaboration between 12 leading tropics research institutions from across the world, and analyses a broad range of environmental, social and economic indicators.
The State of the Tropics, a 500-page report, is the result of a three-year collaboration between 12 leading tropics research institutions from across the world, and analyses a broad range of environmental, social and economic indicators. AFP PHOTO - Soe Than Win

New State of the Tropics report shows agricultural drop

A DECLINE in pastoral lands in Australia's tropical areas is the main reason Oceania became the only region to experience a fall in agricultural land area.

The Oceania region dropped 460,000km2 (-21%) to 1.8 million square kilometres.

Australia also was responsible for driving a drop in sheep and goat numbers of almost four million, or a 60% reduction, on 1980 levels.

These are some of the findings released on Sunday in the landmark State of the Tropics report - the result of an alliance between 12 tertiary and research institutions from across the world.

The comprehensive report has gathered extensive data relating to development over the past 60 years to explore environmental, social and economic indicators in order to answer the question whether life in the tropics - such as Rockhampton and Mackay - is improving.

Other findings include:

- Life expectancy has increased from 49 years in the early 1950s to 67 years in 2010; maternal mortality has dropped by 37%, and the under 5 mortality rate has been fallen by more than 70%.

- Tertiary enrolments per 100,000 population are the second highest in the Tropics and well above overall world numbers.

- The region has the lowest CO2 emissions but the highest per capita CO2-equivalent emissions of green house gas emissions in the Tropics. Excluding Australia and Hawaii, per capita emissions are the third lowest in the Tropics and well below the world figure.

- The number of undernourished people fell from 15% in 1990 to 10% in 2012, and the people living in extreme poverty declined from 31% to 28%.

- It has the lowest rate (15%) of slum population - the only region better than the rest of the world.

- 47% of the world's coral reefs are in the region and the reefs at risk have increased from seven in 1998 to 28 in 2010. But more than 40% of coral reefs were at low risk and marine protected areas have increased almost 10%.

- Aquaculture production has increased from only 70 tonnes in 1950 to 12,700 tonnes in 2010.

- Deforestation and overgrazing were the main causes of a 34% increase in land degradation between 1981 and 2003, and Oceania is one of only two regions to report increases in the rate of primary forest losses.



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