Australia is the driest habitable continent on earth1 and getting drier.2

The Environmental Defenders Office uses the law to defend our freshwater and marine ecosystems, protecting our precious water resources from pollution and over-extraction.

Our legal and scientific experts use compelling evidence and rigorous application of the law to defend our groundwater, oceans and waterways when they come under threat from lax regulation and environmental mismanagement by corporations and Governments.

Mining and Coal Seam Gas

The extractive industries use large volumes of water in their operations and risk the grotesque pollution of waterways. 

EDO acts on behalf of local people, farmers and landholders to hold these well-funded and powerful companies to account, we advocate for stronger laws to protect water sources and work to ensure governments act to enforce existing laws.

Cases where EDO has defended the water resources of farmers and local people against big mining companies include Adani, New Acland Stage 3, the Bylong Valley, Maules Creek and Springvale.

The Great Barrier Reef

EDO runs important and ground-breaking cases to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of Australians. The Reef is a critical ecosystem, protecting shorelines and acting as a nursery and feeding ground for thousands of species.  It is also the sea country home of more than 70 Traditional Owner groups.3

EDO lawyers stopped the use of lethal drum lines to kill sharks on the Reef, winning a case against the Queensland Government to protect these iconic animals on behalf of the Humane Society.  EDO also represented three conservation groups in separate court cases to stop the dumping of dredge spoil in Reef waters, contributing to the eventual ban of the practice.

The Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling River system is the lifeblood of inland south-eastern Australia — from Queensland through New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria to where it meets the Great Australian Bight in South Australia. On this dry continent, amid sustained drought and the growing threat of climate change, the Murray-Darling system is collapsing. 

The laws governing the Murray-Darling are complex and specialised, requiring expert legal guidance to navigate.  EDO lawyers bring groundbreaking cases to defend communities along the basin and uphold the rule of law when it comes to water extraction and pollution. Our litigation and advocacy gives people along the river a legal voice and access to the law, to stand up to powerful interests who seek to exploit this vital resource. 

Ramsar Wetlands

Wetlands are vital for the survival of humans and many other species on earth.4 The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that imposes a legal obligation on governments to protect ecologically important wetlands and prevent habitat loss. Australia has 66 Ramsar-listed wetlands covering 8.3 million hectares5. EDO works with farmers, landholders and local people to protect the unique character of our Ramsar wetlands and ensure nearby developments face are subject to robust scrutiny and comply with the law.

Our oceans and waterways are dying from pollution and mismanagement. 

Your gift will help improve water laws and hold environmental vandals to account.

  1. The Australian continent:
  2. Australia’s changing climate:
  3. Reef Facts:
  4. The Importance of Wetlands:
  5. Australian Ramsar Wetlands: