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Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. Plant life provides 80 percent of our human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water; as well as being crucial for combating climate change.

Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.

The SDGs aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Halting deforestation is also vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage. Source

Many ecosystems have been lost during the past 200 years. Some of these ecosystems include:

  • 75% of rainforests and nearly 50% of all forests;
  • over 60% of coastal wetlands in southern and eastern Australia;
  • nearly 90% of temperate woodlands and mallee;
  • more than 99% of south-eastern Australia's temperate lowland grasslands;
  • over 83% of Tasmania's lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands;
  • about 95% of Brigalow scrub that originally grew in Queensland;
  • over 90% of Victoria's grasslands.

Loss of species

Loss of species is a major threat to biodiversity in Australia. Species of animals and plants under threat may be listed in one of the following categories:

Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Conservation dependent


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For some it is our life support system, for others it is a resource to be used, for others it is a precious cultural symbol. Australians have long had a sense that our biodiversity is special, but despite our sense of its importance, in many parts of our country biodiversity is in trouble.

  1. Biodiversity is the variety is the variety of all lifeforms on Earth – all the different plants, animals and microorganisms, and the ecosystems they live in. in the context of farming, biodiversity refers to the woodlands, native scrub, trees, shrubs and native grasses, as well as the insects and other animals that live on farms. Farmers strive to manage the environment in a way that not only allows this rich biodiversity to coexist with food and fibre production coexist, and also helps biodiversity thrive.
  2. Biodiversity makes human life on Earth possible yet it goes beyond mere measurable scientific facts; understanding biodiversity highlights the benefits of the natural world, many of which are at risk due to the pressures of human resource-use.
  3. Biodiversity is a human paradigm reflecting various values – economics, ecological life-support, recreation, culture and science – placed upon it according to perceived benefits and risks.

Values – Why biodiversity matters

Values are the lasting beliefs or ideals that will influence a person’s attitude and which serve as broad guidelines for that person’s behaviour.

Understanding biodiversity, and why it matters, is assisted by comprehending the range of distinctive values that individuals and societies may assign to the living world and the ecosystems that it comprises.

It is an indication in itself of the complexity of views about biodiversity, and the variety of interactions with it, that at least five separate categories are necessary to cover all possibilities.

Source CSIRO Biodiversity: Science and Solutions for Australia.

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