Biodiversity is the variety of life. It is our safety net.
We share our beautiful Earth with millions of different species and an array of incredible life. Not only does biodiversity create stunning and diverse natural environments for us to enjoy, it also provides us with our daily needs.
The huge diversity of animals, plants and habitats on our planet play an important role in giving us food, water, shelter, clean air and medicine. These are the essentials in helping us maintain our health and well-being.
Biodiversity is often explored at three levels that work together to create life on Earth.
- Genetic Diversity is the variety of genetics within a single species.
- Species Diversity is the variety of plants and animals in a particular region or habitat. More than 80% of Australia’s species are endemic, which means they are unique only to our landscape.
- Ecosystem Diversity is the variety of environments, animals and microorganisms that interact together. Ecosystems can be big or small, from life in a jungle to life on a plant! One of the biggest and most unique ecosystems is Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef.
The interaction between species and their habitats form processes that sustain life, from purifying water, breaking down waste to regulating the climate.
Unfortunately, we are destroying our safety net.
Earth’s biodiversity is under threat
Earth’s biodiversity is under threat due to the overwhelming impact of humans. Habitat destruction, introduction of foreign and invasive species, pollution, human-induced climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources is causing large-scale biodiversity loss.
We’ve flattened entire forest ecosystems to make way for farming. Netted fish until their numbers collapsed. Pushed species to the brink of extinction at an alarming rate. Iconic species of rhino, dolphin, bird and frog have become extinct in the past decade. We are facing Earth’s sixth mass extinction.
Biodiversity in Australia
From rocky red outcrops, to luscious green forests and magnificent coasts, Australia is home to some of the world’s largest and most unique examples of biodiversity. In fact, this country is so biodiverse that around 150,000 species have been identified and this is thought to be only about 25% of the total number present.
Unfortunately, Australia has suffered many species extinctions. In the past 200 years, we have lost more mammal species than all the other continents combined, with at least one extinction occurring every decade. Now, with 21% of Australian species listed as threatened, this devastating rate of loss is likely to continue.
Conserving Australia’s biodiversity
Australia’s abundant biodiversity puts us in a prime position to demonstrate world leadership in providing a high standard of protection for our wildlife and environment. In doing so, we can help slow the rate of species loss and protect the services that our natural ecosystems provide to our communities and economy.