Australia's biodiversity and climate change - A strategic assessment of the vulnerability of Australia's biodiversity to climate change

Biodiversity and Climate Change Expert Advisory Group, 2013

About the assessment

An assessment of the vulnerability of Australia's biodiversity to climate change was commissioned by the Australian Government to help increase our understanding of how to help Australia's rich biodiversity adapt to climate change.

The assessment finds that Australia's biodiversity is at risk from even moderate climate change and already under stress, for example from habitat degradation, changed fire regimes and invasive species.

Climate change is likely to exacerbate these existing stressors and add additional stresses such as through declining water availability.

Australia is one of 17 megadiverse countries - a group of countries that harbour more than 70 per cent of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse.

Australia has many species that are unique to Australia and vulnerable to climate change.

About 85 per cent of Australia's terrestrial mammals, 91 of flowering plants, and 90 per cent of reptiles and frogs are found nowhere else in the world. More than 50 per cent of the world's marsupial species occur only in Australia.

Rates of extinction of species are likely to increase as the global average temperature rises by just 1.0 or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and likely to accelerate sharply as temperature rises beyond 2 degrees Celsius.

The assessment was undertaken by an independent group of experts, led by Professor Will Steffen, for the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council.

Further information