This year, leaders from around the world will be coming together to agree to a new set of goals for nature. The UN conference, known as COP15 or Biodiversity COP is an opportunity for countries to come together and agree to a plan to set nature in recovery, aiming for a nature-positive world by 2030.
Australia is known for its wild places and unique wildlife - many found nowhere else in the world. We have a critical opportunity to put Australian wildlife on the agenda at COP15. Help us protect and restore nature by adding your name to to urge leaders around the world to protect biodiversity.
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Australia is home to an incredible array of living things, from insects to mammals, fungi to plants, and bacteria found in our backyards, forests, deserts, mountains, and oceans. Every kind of life in our ecosystems has an important role to play, working together, like an intricate web to maintain balance and support life. Ecologically speaking, here are five of Australia’s most valuable players (MVPs) that you might not have thought about:
While people might overlook the dirt beneath their feet, the health of soil plays an enormous role in the overall success of the ecosystem. Soil regulates water, cycles minerals and nutrients, and filters out potential pollutants and threats to plants and animals (including humans!). From supporting nesting burrows for wombats, frogs and many more species to hundred-year-old tree roots, healthy soil = healthy habitat!
Bettongs are small, nocturnal marsupials native to Australia that play a vital role in keeping their habitat clean and healthy. These energetic little gardeners turn over truckloads of soil and leaf matter each year in search of underground fungi. This helps the entire ecosystem function by improving water infiltration, cycling nutrients and encouraging native plant growth. Bettongs were once found across more than 60% of Australia, but predation and habitat loss have seen many species of bettongs reduced to endangered status. WWF-Australia is helping these important soil engineers bounce back by rewilding the brush-tailed bettong on Yorke Peninsula through our Marna Bangarra rewilding project.
We’ve all heard of the honey bee, but did you know there are around 1,700 species of native bee in Australia? Over thousands of years, some species of bee have evolved a codependent relationship with their habitat. In fact, there are certain plants that can only be pollinated by a particular type of bee - for example, on Kangaroo Island, the green carpenter bee (Xylocopa aerata) is the only bee species able to pollinate native plants like guinea flowers and velvet bushes.
A mycorrhiza is fungal node that has a mutually-beneficial relationship between a plant and a fungus that lives in or near the plant’s root system. Mycorrhizae use huge networks of filamentous growth (think super long, fine tentacles) to transfer vital water and nutrients to the plants that might otherwise be out of reach. In return, mycorrhizae take up some of the sugars created by the plants during photosynthesis (the process in which most plants use sunshine to make their own food!), meaning all organisms involved get the resources they need to survive.
While they may not receive the recognition of our furry soil engineers like the bettong, earthworms are crucial players in maintaining soil health. They’re also one of the best recyclers on the planet! Earthworms help in a number of ways - from eating dead and decaying matter to increasing soil nutrients for other species. They have a significant impact on habitats around the world and Australia is home to the planet’s largest earthworm species, the giant Gippsland earthworm (Megascolides australis) from Victoria. These giant worms average one metre long and live deep underground in damp burrow systems.
Australia’s unique wildlife, wild places and plants wouldn’t be the marvel it is without these ecological MVPs. But climate change, habitat loss and invasive species are threatening the survival of ecosystems and species around the world. Nature and wildlife need urgent protection, and you can make a difference.
With your help, we’re calling on leaders around the world to commit to ambitious goals so we can reverse nature loss by 2030. Add your name today and help to protect nature in Australia and around the world.
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The Marna Banggara project is jointly funded through the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, WWF-Australia and Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Other partners actively involved in developing and delivering the project include Regional Development Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission, Zoos SA, FAUNA Research Alliance, BirdLife Australia, Nature Conservation Society of SA, Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Primary Producers SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Legatus Group, Yorke Peninsula Council, Yorke Peninsula Tourism and the Scientific Expedition Group.