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Publications archive - The Biodiversity Toolbox


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

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About biodiversity

Biodiversity can be most simply defined as the variability of life, from the minute genetic level through to the large scale of an ecosystem. The existence of the human race is dependent on the interactions of all forms of life, and by extension, on diversity.

Why conserve biodiversity?

Acacia lanta branchlet and bud. Photo D Halford. Councils in all States have a range of different legislative, statutory and legal obligations to plan for biodiversity.

Vegetation sustains the earth's atmosphere through absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale and generating the oxygen we breathe. The food we consume, the electricity that powers our homes and offices, the fabric we are clothed in and the pharmaceuticals available to treat our illnesses are all directly related to biodiversity.

While almost every aspect of our lives is somehow affected by biodiversity, genes, organisms and ecosystems do not merely exist for the benefit of humans. Moving away from the human-focused view, we should attribute to the natural environment the same right to exist that we ourselves have. Biodiversity conservation therefore aims to create a balanced existence between humans and the environment.

From an Australian perspective, massive changes in natural biodiversity have occurred during the past 200 years of colonial settlement, leading to the consideration of biodiversity decline as one of the key environmental problems of today. A reversal in this trend has never been more important - and local government is and will always be an important agent of change.

Threats to biodiversity in Australia

Biodiversity is constantly subjected to pressures including the following:

Specifically Local Government can minimise:

Many native species and ecological communities have severely declined across their natural range or are threatened with extinction. Those considered nationally threatened are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Recovery Plans are prepared to guide the conservation action needed to reverse such declines and prevent the extinction of species and ecological communities. Similarly, Threat Abatement Plans identify the actions necessary to control and manage listed key threatening processes. For details see Threatened Species.