The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is targeting the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) 1999 in a bid to halt the negative impact of population growth on biodiversity.
The ACF wants to add "human population growth in Australia" as a threatening process under the act and has called on the government to set a population policy that will stabilise the population by mid-century.
The ACF issued a statement Monday requesting a new policy that will not only increase humanitarian migration and continue to support family reunions but one that also substantially reduces skilled migration. The ACF has proposed a return of overall migration to 1990s levels and called for adequately funded strategies to minimise the environmental impact of population growth.
"The bigger our population gets, the harder it is for us to reduce greenhouse pollution, protect natural habitats near urban and coastal areas and ensure a good quality of life for all Australians," said ACF's director of strategic ideas, Charles Berger.
"We need to improve urban and coastal planning and management of environmental issues, but we can't rely on better planning alone to protect our environment. Rapid population growth makes sustainable planning nearly impossible, so stabilising Australia's population by mid-century should be a national policy goal."
Australia's population reached 22.2 million in 2010 and the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects an increase in population to between 31 million and 42 million by 2056, or growth of between 40% and 89% over current figures.
The ACF, in its EPBC Act nomination form, explained that population growth is a driver of numerous consequential biological and non-biological processes and that overseas migration currently accounts for more than half of Australia's annual increase in population.
But the ACT pointed also out that the policy does not require a commitment to zero net migration or entail a "one-child policy" or other government intervention. It also said that it is possible to achieve a stable population, and to plan for some degree of population growth, without resorting to direct government intervention.