Department of the Environment and Heritage, 1998
ISBN 0 6422 1410 7
About the report
Australia ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in June 1993. The Convention came into force in December 1993. In response to Decision II/17 of the Conference of the Parties, Australia has prepared its first national report addressing Article 6 of the Convention.
Australia is the world's sixth largest nation. It lies in the southern hemisphere and has seven external territories, including the Australian Antarctic Territory. The Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, at 16 million square kilometres, is more than twice the continental land area. In biodiversity terms, Australia is a mega-diverse country with a notably high proportion of terrestrial and marine endemic species. Australia's biodiversity makes a significant contribution to its economy and is regarded as an important part of the nation's heritage. It is essential to the identity and culture of Australia's indigenous peoples.
Australia is a federation of six self-governing States and two self-governing mainland Territories. States and Territories have established systems of Local Government. Environmental powers are not the sole responsibility of any one level of government, but State and Territory Governments have primary responsibility for land management legislation. Governments take a cooperative national approach to environmental matters through the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment. The private sector, academic institutions, non-government organisations and the general community also play an important role in environmental issues, including biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.