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?

16 Dec 2021

Keywords
  • plants
  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • forests
  • threatened species

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.

 

Help us protect Australia's biodiversity.


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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.

 

Help us protect Australia’s biodiversity. Send a message to the Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment, asking them to protect 30% of land and 30% of oceans by 2030.


SIGN THE PETITION

 

The United Nations Biodiversity COP

In early 2022, the United Nations will hold the Biodiversity COP where they’ll make once-in-a-decade decisions that will be critical for our global climate and environment. Our leaders need to take this opportunity to provide stronger protections for Australian biodiversity by committing to protecting 30% of Australia’s land and 30% of Australia’s oceans by 2030. They need to increase investment in Indigenous Protected Areas, list east coast koalas as an Endangered species to ensure greater legal protection and announce a plan for zero human-induced wildlife extinctions from here on. It might sound like a lot, but a lot is what we need right now.

 

But what does this mean?

By protecting 30% of both our lands and oceans by 2030, we need them to be ecologically representative, well-connected and effectively and equitably managed. These areas need to be carefully chosen and monitored closely to ensure our leaders deliver on their goals and our expectations. It’s not enough to just say they’re protected. We also need to strengthen and improve Australia’s environmental laws, including establishing an Independent Environment Protection Authority to enforce Australia’s nature laws and protect the koala and its habitat under these laws. This will help protect countless other Australian species as well.

 

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

 

How can you help?

We need our leaders to show leadership and that’s why your voice can help. WWF-Australia has launched a petition, ‘Nowhere to Now Here’. It urges the Australian Government to take our recommendations on protecting our iconic biodiversity to ensure the continued existence of our unique wildlife and their habitats and help stem the effects of climate change.

 

Please, sign the petition and we’ll send your message directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley.


SIGN THE PETITION

 

Making these necessary changes will be like making a promise to the future. By adding your name to the petition, you can let our government know that you’re one of the many Australians who intend to hold them to that promise.

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