Biodiversity is the variety of life. It is our safety net.
We share our beautiful Earth with millions of different plants and animals and an incredible array of other life. Biodiversity not only creates stunning and diverse natural environments for us to enjoy but also provides us with our daily needs.
The huge diversity of animals, plants and habitats on our planet plays an important role in giving us food, water, shelter, clean air and medicine. These are the essentials that help us maintain our health and well-being.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the single word used to describe the variety of life found across our planet. It is often explored at three levels that all 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 only found in our unique 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 Great Barrier Reef.
The interaction between species and their habitats forms processes that sustain life, from purifying water and breaking down waste to regulating the climate.
Sadly, we are destroying our safety net.
Earth’s biodiversity is under threat
Habitat destruction, the introduction of foreign and invasive species, pollution, human-induced climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources are 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. This country is so biodiverse that around 150,000 species have been identified, which is thought to be only about 25% of the total number.
Unfortunately, Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. In the last decade, three of Australia’s native species have gone extinct, and hundreds more are on the verge of extinction.
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.