Australian biodiversity

Waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Image by Casliber, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Image by Casliber, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

It’s still world biodiversity month, and that’s an opportune time to mention a few interesting and little-known facts about biodiversity in Australia.

Australia is one of 17 recognised ‘megadiverse’ countries: that is, countries containing extremely high biodiversity. Australia also has the distinction of being one of only two developed megadiverse nations, and has very low population density.

Weedy seadragon. Image by Richard Ling, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Weedy seadragon. Image by Richard Ling, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

You could be forgiven for thinking that this would mean our biodiversity was relatively safe and unthreatened, but sadly this is not the case. We have the worst record of any country on Earth for extinctions of higher plants (83 species) and mammals (19 species), and have also sent 21 species of birds and 3 species of frogs extinct. Overall, 126 species have become extinct in around 200 years since European settlement.

Emu

Emu. Image by Aenneken, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

All is not lost, however. The Australian Government Department of the Environment has a variety of policies and practices to protect our biodiversity, whether it be on land or in the waters.

In the meantime, all of us can take care, learn about how unique and diverse our Australian ecosystem is, and discover how to protect it, for its own sake and for the sake of future generations of Australians.

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