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What Is Biodiversity?

So what is biodiversity? And why it is important? Please read on to find out more....

Biodiversity - what is it?

Biodiversity (or biological diversity) is the variety of all forms of life - the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems of which they form a part.

An ecosystem is a community of animals and plants, considered as a total unit within its physical environment.

Biodiversity - why is it important?

Biodiversity is the web of life.  Although we may not register it, somewhere along the way biodiversity plays a part in everything we need and do.  We breathe the oxygen produced by living plants, and plants take up the harmful carbon dioxide produced by industry and motor vehicles.  Tiny microbes break down our waste, and our agricultural crops are supported by foraging birds and insects that feed on pests.

South Australia is biologically diverse because there are many different species of plants, animals and micro-organisms which live in many different types of environments.  Each species has a specific set of genes which determine what they look like and how they behave.  All species rely on factors in the natural environment - the web of life - for their survival and we cannot predict what will happen if one part of the web changes or disappears altogether.

Urban Biodiversity - why is it important?

More than 75% of Australians live in urban or semi-urban areas.  The greatest loss of natural biodiversity has occurred in these areas due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and disruption to wetland and coastal systems.

With diminishing links to nature, many urban people are becoming increasingly removed from the natural world yet do not realise that their lifestyle depends on biodiversity.  It is still the foundation for sustainable living and some of South Australia's most important industries - agriculture, forestry, fisheries, pharmaceuticals and tourism rely on healthy, functioning ecological processes and systems.

Biodiversity Conservation

In order to conserve and protect biodiversity in our environment we need to focus on both habitat and species conservation because they are intrinsically linked.  The Basic principles of biodiversity conservation include:

  • A comprehensive and representative network of natural areas;
  • A focus on threatened species at national, state and regional level;
  • A coordinated approach to the management of threatening processes; and
  • A strategic plan for sub-regions where diverse ecosystems can evolve and function in a relatively undisturbed fashion.

Biodiversity planning and action is essential if we are to effectively conserve our urban biodiversity and the natural heritage of Adelaide.

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Page last updated - Wednesday 30-Nov-11