Black-flanked rock-wallaby in Cape Range, WA © WWF-Australia / Merril Halley

Black-flanked rock-wallaby in Cape Range, WA © WWF-Australia / Merril Halley

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

19 May 2022

  • plants
  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • forests
  • threatened species

Our biodiversity needs your support. 

Add your voice to demand urgent global action to protect and restore nature.




What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the collection of all the different types of life found in any one area. It is the trees and grass that grow there, the animals that call them home and even the microorganisms, like bacteria, that live on the plants and animals. Biodiversity is all these things living together to create an ecosystem, which allows life to thrive. And every part of it is essential.


Australian biodiversity

Here, in Australia, scientists have identified more than 1.75 million species of plant, animal and microorganism, and the odds are, there are many more, as yet unidentified life forms, living among us. Australia’s biodiversity is unlike any other in the world, with 46% of our birds and 69% of our mammals unique to this country. Have you ever seen an American koala? Neither have we.


Koala mum and joey watching the sunset © Jacob Crisp


Biodiversity is important for our continued existence.

Biodiversity creates balance, and every life form plays a part in maintaining that balance. If we lose the bacteria that purify water, the trees won’t be able to get the water they need, and as a result, many animals will lose their food source. And it’s not just the animals that require biodiversity to survive. As humans, we rely on this rich variety of nature for things like clean drinking water, food, medicine and shelter. A functioning ecosystem also helps to break down waste and regulate the climate. Put simply, life without biodiversity isn’t much of a life at all.


Our biodiversity is under threat.

Human progress has pushed our biodiversity to the brink. As human populations continue to grow, we put increasing pressure on plants, through landclearing, pollution, overexploitation of resources, human-induced climate change and the introduction of foreign species to our delicately balanced ecosystem. As a result, species extinction has increased by between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate worldwide.


Bushfire and deforestation in Australian outback © Shutterstock / Jamen Percy / WWF


In Australia, we’ve already lost the Tasmanian tiger, as well as numerous bird, and other marsupial species. Currently, under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act, there are 89 animal species listed as Critically Endangered and a further 188 species listed as Endangered.


We’re record holders!

Throughout Australia, our iconic ecosystems are collapsing, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray Darling Basin, and we are looking to lose a great deal of crucial biodiversity as a result. Things are so bad right now that Australia holds the record for the worst mammal extinction rate in the world. Not really a record to be proud of.


Bleached coral on Lizard Island, QLD, in February 2016 © WWF-Aus / Alexander Vail


We need to stop the loss

Stopping biodiversity loss is possible, but it requires action, and we are running out of time to take that action, and in doing so, hopefully, stem the decline of the natural world. If we’re going to reverse biodiversity loss and protect our wildlife, governments need to take action to protect and restore habitats and address drivers of natural loss. It might seem difficult, but if we don’t act soon, we may be too late.


Add your name as we urge global leaders around the world to protect biodiversity.




Greater glider in a patch of old growth forest in Munruben, Logan City, south of Brisbane © Josh Bowell


How can you help?

Add your voice as we urge global leader to take urgent action to protect our iconic biodiversity to ensure the continued existence of our unique wildlife, their habitats and help stem the effects of climate change.


Our biodiversity needs your support. 

Add your voice to demand urgent global action to protect and restore nature.


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