Publications archive - Publications
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
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Environment Australia, September 7, 2002
Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85 per cent of flowering plants, 84 per cent of mammals, over 45 per cent of birds, and 89 per cent of inshore, temperate-zone fish are endemic – that is they are only found in Australia.
All of these species need the right conditions to survive and flourish – a safe home or habitat. Australia is home to an immense variety of habitats including swamps, grasslands, mangroves, forests, rainforests, woodlands and deserts. These habitats provide our native animals with food and water, as well as the hollow logs, boulders, caverns, loose bark and tree hollows they need to shelter and breed.
The main reason that animals and plants become extinct or threatened is because their habitat has been destroyed or changed. Land clearing and urban development reduces the amount of habitat available for animals such as the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot to live in. Pollution also has an effect on natural environments, and oil spills in the ocean effect our sea-birds, including the vulnerable Lesser Noddy. The birds swallow the oil and become sick when they try to clean the oil off their feathers.
Invasive species have a disastrous effect on our native plants and animals. Feral animals, like foxes, hunt and kill numerous native birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. They also compete with native animals for space, food and shelter. Weeds change the natural balance by smothering native plants or preventing them from growing back after clearing, fire or other disturbances.
The government is working with industry and community groups to help protect our endangered species. There are many ways that you can help: get in touch with your local conservation group or Threatened Species Network Coordinator; take part in awareness activities such as National Threatened Species Day and the Hands on for Habitat Awards; and be a responsible pet owner by keeping cats in at night and not taking your dog into national parks and reserves.