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BIODIVERSITY. What is it? Why is it important? How can we protect it?. Created by Richard Swan of HotRock. Lady slipper orchid. Jelly fish. Corpse flower. tapir. Two toed sloth. BIODIVERSITY 2010 year of biodiversity video. Glowing mushrooms. Sea cucumber. Angora rabbit.

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What is it?

Why is it important?

How can we protect it?

Created by Richard Swan

of HotRock


Lady slipper orchid

Jelly fish

Corpse flower


Two toed sloth


2010 year of biodiversity video

Glowing mushrooms

Sea cucumber

Angora rabbit

Star nosed mole


BIODIVERSITY … is a measure of all the different types of living things that co-exist in an ecosystem


Tardigrade or “water bear “



Not just the things that you can see … but all the things that you can’t see too. These organisms are found in the soil.

(Images are hyperlinked to source websites with more interesting organisms)





New species of plants, animals, bacteria and fungi are evolving all the time. Species are going extinct all the time too.

It is a problem when species are going extinct faster than new species are evolving.

Right now the rate of species extinction on our planet is 1000 times higher than what would be considered ‘normal’. The last time that the rate of extinction was this high was during the Cretaceous—Tertiary extinction event, which occurred 65 million years ago. This event resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

150 species are going extinct every day! We’re living in the middle of a mass extinction - and most people don’t even know about it!

Some people are calling it the Anthropocene extinction (‘anthro’ referring to ‘humans’) because human activity is causing it.


So if we’re in the middle of a mass extinction, maybe we should know more about it, like …

What’s so important about biodiversity?

What can we do about it?

These marsupials once lived in Australia. They are now extinct. Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. Half of the mammals that have gone extinct in the last 200 hundred years have come from Australia!

Click the pictures to find out more. And here’s more interesting article on the Australian extinction crisis :


Why is biodiversity important ?


Biodiverse ecosystems can resist ecological disturbances

Imagine an insect or bacteria infestation in an ecosystem. A biodiverse ecosystem is more likely to have some species that can resist the new challenge. An ecosystem with a small amount of biodiversity is more likely to collapse.

This concept holds true for all systems. Think of a business. A business with lots of clients is more resistant to change than a business with only a few clients. Can you think of another example?

Photo above. An aphid infestation. This is less likely to occur in a biodiverse ecosystem because predatory insects like ladybirds will control these insects. Agricultural monocultures are very low in diversity and therefore rely on heavy inputs of insecticides to control pests. These poisons cause a further loss in biodiversity.


Protecting biodiversity helps us to safeguard our food supply.

Our food supply is at risk when we depend on a small number of species.

80% of our food supply comes from 20 plants. Yet 40 000 species of plants and animals are used by humans around the world every day. To secure our future food supply, we must ensure that this diversity of species is maintained.

A community garden in

South West Australia


Rice grassy stunt virus (RGSV) is a plant virus. In the 1970s, the grassy stunt virus decimated rice harvests across Asia because the majority of Asia was planting few species: When RGSV struck, it was a catastrophe for thousands of farmers in countries like Indonesia and India. To breed a resistant crop, scientists had to find a wild variety that was resistant to the virus. They screened 6273 varieties: luckily one was found to be resistant, a relatively feeble Indian variety, known to science only since 1966. It was hybridised with other varieties and is now widely grown worldwide. This story highlights the importance of biodiversity in crop systems - if there hadn't been a pool of 6273 wild varieties to choose from, the rice industry could have been permanently damaged.



Protecting biodiversity helps us to safeguard the medicinal drugs of the future.

Half the new medicinal drugs that come to market are derived from nature.

3 species somewhere around the world go extinct every hour of every day. We are loosing cures of current and future diseases.

A single new drug released onto the global market can gross over $1 billion in sales. So saving biodiversity makes economic sense too.

Melaleuca quinquenervia (broad-leaved paperbark). An example of a well-known Aboriginal Bush Medicine. Leaves are chewed to overcome headaches and colds.

Find more information at :


Regardless of all this … saving biodiversity is the right thing to do. One species on Earth cannot be allowed to act in a way that eliminates other species.

Regardless of whether that species is a cute and cuddly …


Or a not so cute and cuddly …


… flea.


But what can we do about it ?


We can make a difference through what we



Control feral animals

Plant native trees to increase

habitat for local animals


Share your knowledge with people around you

Stick to the bag limits and minimum catch sizes.

Join a local NGO that is doing something to protect biodiversity. Or start your own!

Check out the Department of Fisheries website for information.

You can also help the Department of Fisheries to monitor fish stocks by sending in your frames …


We can make a difference through what we



What we collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the course of life and history on our planet.


When it comes to buying a house, decide not to support developers that do this. There ARE alternatives.

Reduce your carbon footprint. Global warming and the associated changes in temperatures and rainfall is a major driver of extinction.


Plant native trees in your garden to create habitat and refuge for local birds and animals.

Keep local animals as pets


Become informed. Know what you’re buying, where it was produced, under what work conditions. What was the impact on the environment?

Support businesses that supply organic food and clothing. Or grow your own organic food. A positive step towards reducing our use of pesticides.

Samudra’s organic café food garden in Dunsborough, WA


In conclusion, here are three points to consider


Here in South-western Australia we have a special responsibility when it comes to the protection of biodiversity …


SOURCE : New Scientist 7 Dec 2002 “Biodiversity”

Notice how the world's biodiversity hotspots are almost all located in less economically developed countries. South-Western Australia stands alone as the only hotspot in a more economically developed country. Australia can afford to be proactive. We need to be leading the way in policy and action that conserves our biodiversity.


We’re losing species that we haven’t even discovered yet …


SOURCE : New Scientist 7 Dec 2002 “Biodiversity”

This graph estimates the total number of species in different groups and the percentage of species that have been discovered in that group. For example, for insects, there are an estimated 8 000 000 species and 12% of them have been described.

The smaller things get the less we know about them. The organisms that underpin the biology of soil are some of the most important to humans - and yet are some of the least well known. Humans know more about outer space than we do about what goes on under our feet.


How many species are too few?


SOURCE : Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity. Aaron Bernstein


Do we really want

to find out?




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