Biodiversity publications archive

Biodiversity and its value

Biodiversity series, Paper no. 1
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories
, 1993
ISBN 0 642 19904 3

Introduction

Welcome to this new series of occasional papers on Australia's biodiversity. The series intends, for the first time, to collate and make available information relating to all aspects of the conservation of Australia's biodiversity – why it is globally significant, the conservation status of its components, threatening processes, current levels of knowledge, and the adequacy of conservation measures. In addition the series will also include results from selected projects undertaken on behalf of the Biodiversity Unit.

The emergence of this series is very timely in that it coincides with growing national and global awareness of the need to conserve biodiversity, and increasing action to achieve this. The Convention on Biological Diversity which came into force on 29 December 1993 provides the global mechanism to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for the present and future generations. Within Australia, the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, currently being finalised by governments, is the key measure for implementing our obligations under the Convention. The Strategy recognises that, as a megadiverse country, Australia's biodiversity is globally significant and that its conservation will bring benefits to all.

This paper outlines what biodiversity is, and the three levels at which it is usually defined: genetic, species and ecosystem. Most importantly, this paper explains why biodiversity is important. The range of invaluable ecosystem services provided by biodiversity are described, as are the values of biological resources such as timber and food and the range of social and cultural values of biodiversity. To conclude, the paper describes the value of biodiversity itself.

The series is particularly important because it takes a coordinated and integrated approach to providing information on biodiversity. In doing so, not only is a major information gap filled, but it is clearly demonstrated that biodiversity conservation is a cornerstone of an ecologically sustainable future for Australia. The appears in this series will be valued by all interested in or concerned about our unique and valuable biodiversity.