Southwest Australia Ecoregion
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The Southwest Australia Ecoregion (SWAE) is a vast, triangular-shaped swathe of land stretching roughly from Shark Bay on Western Australia’s northern coast to Esperance on the south-east coast, and then extending in a narrow band towards the South Australian border. It covers approximately 493,000 square kilometres of some of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth1, and is unique, even by Australian standards.
The Southwest Australia Ecoregion was selected as one of the 35 Global Priority Places in a scientific review conducted by WWF in 2007. The ecoregion has also been recognised as
• one of only 34 global biodiversity hotspots, based on the high number of unique plants and the high level of threats to the region by Conservation International
• an Endemic Bird Area by BirdLife International
• a Centre for Plant Diversity by WWF and the IUCN
Many people don’t realise that the Southwest Australia Ecoregion is one of five Mediterranean biomes and that this biome type is the most threatened of the planet’s eight biomes.
Mediterranean biomes have extremely high levels of biodiversity and are severely threatened by rapidly expanding populations.
In fact, this region has the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in Australia. The SWAE is thus a primary focus for biodiversity conservation both nationally and internationally.
1. National Geographic - http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/ecoregions/swaustralia_forests_scrub.cfm
What is an ecoregion?
In biological terms, an ecoregion focuses attention on the biodiversity at stake. It allows us to think, plan and act in relation to a single ecological unit, regardless of man-made boundaries. Setting meaningful and strategic conservation goals is therefore more feasible because planning can focus on populations, processes. ecological phenomena and serious threats to one biologically coherent region.
Ecoregion conservation is visionary, encouraging us to plan for the long-term.