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Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Litoria Chloris  Source: D Milledge

  • Biodiversity is fundamental to all life on Earth.
  • Biodiversity provides all our food and many raw materials for production of essential goods and services such as clothing and medicines.
  • Healthy functioning ecosystems provide many services including production of clean air and water, soil formation, waste and nutrient cycling and pest control.
  • Biodiversity provides opportunities for tourism, recreation, research and education (DEC 2004)
  • Australian ecosystems provide goods and services estimated at $1300 billion/yr (BSC 2004)
  • Biodiversity is a source of cultural identity for many Australians (DEC 2004)
  • Biodiversity also has intrinsic value drawn simply from the fact that species exist regardless of their benefit to humans.

Unfortunately biodiversity loss is a current and growing crisis worldwide. The greatest threats to biodiversity are: 1) loss and fragmentation of habitats due to human land use such as the clearing of forests and the drainage of wetlands, and 2) invasion by introduced plant and animal species.

The costs of not conserving biodiversity will be substantial for present and future generations (DEC 2004). For example, decline in soil structure, decreased water quality, salinity, and pest and weed invasion have increasing impacts on agriculture through loss in productivity and increased costs. It makes ecological and economic sense to prevent further decline in biodiversity.

Conservation of biodiversity requires retaining, maintaining and restoring ecosystem functions and processes (BSC 2004). This is best achieved by understanding the issues affecting biodiversity and finding solutions to reduce the impacts.  It is therefore important that communities are educated on how to address biodiversity loss at a landscape scale in order to protect and enhance native habitats and ecosystems.