A nation of megadiversity
Biodiversity is a simple term used to describe every living thing on the planet – everything that ever was, is now or ever will be.
It’s a single word which aims to encompass an enormous amount of information. The term biodiversity not only refers to the organisms themselves, be they plant, animal or micro-organism, but also the genetic material that is contained in each individual organism and the ecosystems which these organisms create.
It is generally accepted by scientists that over 99% of living things that have ever existed on the planet have become extinct. Extinction is, in biological terms, a natural process of evolution of species. Adaptation is inherent in every organism and it is this ‘fight for life’ that has seen species evolve into the complex organisms we see today.
In July 2002, along with 16 other countries Australia was defined as a megadiverse country. These 17 countries contain over 70% of the world’s species. Australia tops the list for the number of native species of reptiles and overall non-fish vertebrates, and fifth for native plant species. We have one of the most unique and diverse countries in the world made up of many different ecosystems – from the deserts and vast plains of the red centre to the rainforests and coral reefs of our tropical north.
It’s this diversity that we love about our country, and this diversity that we must strive to keep.
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Australian Geographic Society will be joining forces with Conservation Volunteers Australia to get more Aussies off their couches and into the great outdoors.
You can become a member both AG & Conservation Volunteers for 2010 for just $70 and help us continue our conservation work. Click here for more info.
Or you can get your hands dirty by joining one of the many conservation projects happening around the country. Click here for project info.