Australia: State of the Environment 1996, a report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, is the first ever independent nation-wide assessment of the status of Australia's environment. Prepared by a group comprising Australia's kay scientists, academics, industry leaders and environmentalists, the report is up-to-date, credible and comprehensive. It provides a scientific assessment of environmental conditions, focusing on the impacts of human activities, their significance for the environment and societal responses to the identified trends. The issues addressed in the report will assist in the integrated management of our natural resources in a manner which is ecologically sustainable. All sections of the community - the general public, government decision makers and policy analysts, industry groups, natural resource planners and managers, academics and scientists, community groups and environmentalists, students and educational institutions, international agencies, and the media - will find the report an indispensable source of environmental information. The use of such information will help decision makers in government, industry and community groups to adopt an integrated, longer-term perspective, to foster the wise use of our natural resources in a way that maintains ecological processes and increases the total quality of life, now and in the future. The challenge is to put this information to good use.