Australia's biodiversity

Biodiversity conservation

In this section

Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the variety of all species on earth. It is the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes, and the terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems of which they are a part.

Biodiversity is both essential for our existence and intrinsically valuable in its own right.

This is because biodiversity provides the fundamental building blocks for the many goods and services a healthy environment provides. These include things that are fundamental to our health, like clean air, fresh water and food products, as well as the many other products such as timber and fibre.

Other important services provided by our biodiversity include recreational, cultural and spiritual nourishment that maintain our personal and social wellbeing. Looking after our biodiversity is therefore an important task for all people.

Over the last 200 years Australia has suffered the largest documented decline in biodiversity of any continent. Despite efforts to manage threats and pressures to biodiversity in Australia, it is still in decline.

The main threats to our biodiversity are:

National framework for biodiversity conservation

The Australian Government recognises the importance of biodiversity conservation and, in collaboration with the states and territories through the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, is setting a national framework for biodiversity conservation over the next decade. Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030

Australian environment legislation - EPBC Act

The Australian Government has responsibilities for biodiversity conservation through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) - the Australian Government's key piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places - defined in the Act as matters of national environmental significance.

Caring for our Country

Farmers, Indigenous communities, and other private land managers manage approximately 77 per cent of Australia's land area. Conservation of biodiversity on private land is recognised by the Australian Government as an important way to protect Australia's environmental assets.

The Australian Government is investing more than $2 billion in 2008-2013 to achieve a real and measurable difference to Australia's environment through its Caring for our Country initiative. Caring for our Country supports communities, farmers and other land managers to protect Australia's natural environment and sustainably produce food and fibre.

The objective of the Environmental Stewardship Program within Caring for our Country is to maintain and improve the quality and extent of targeted high public value environmental assets on private land.

An important component of the Caring for Our Country initiative is the National Reserve System. This is a nation-wide network of reserves especially set up to protect Australia's unique natural environment for current and future generations.

Conservation on private land

The Australian Government recognises that conservation of biodiversity on private land is an important way to protect Australia's biodiversity.

State and territory governments and local governments also provide conservation incentives to private land holders.

Conservation incentives encourage or motivate people to participate in conservation activities. Incentives can be financial or non-financial in nature, and are typically offered by governments as part of an environmental program. Some incentives are linked to: management plans, placing covenants on land, conservation agreements, or to other permanent protection tools such as formal reservation.

Australian Government Incentives

Other mechanisms

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Last updated: Thursday, 13-Oct-2011 13:28:55 AEDT