Biodiversity (biological diversity) means the variety of all life forms. Biodiversity includes plants, animals and micro-organisms. It also includes the genetic information they contain and their ecosystems.
There are three main categories of biodiversity:
- genetic, biodiversity
- species biodiversity
- ecosystem diversity.
Prior to European settlement in 1836, Adelaide was a biodiversity hotspot. This was due to the high level of native flora and fauna in the the region. The area was able to support a diverse range of plants and animals due to the significant variation in topography, geology and microclimate .
Over 725 species of native plants and 280 species of bird are known to have occurred in the region.
Twenty-one different vegetation associations ranging from open forests and woodlands to coastal dunes and salt marshes covered the area that is now occupied by metropolitan Adelaide.
Changes to local biodiversity
Following the arrival of Europeans the landscape was rapidly altered and continued urban development has led to the clearance of 97.3 percent of Adelaide's original vegetation (as at 2001). There has been great loss of biodiversity, with most locally indigenous flora and fauna populations now extinct or threatened.
Australia is one of only twelve mega-diverse countries that collectively host 75% of the Earth's total biodiversity.
Why biodiversity is important
Biodiversity is fundamental to our everyday lives. From the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the water we drink, biodiversity plays an important role.
Biodiversity provides ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, pollination of crops and plants and recycling of nutrients.
Over 100,000 different types of organisms contribute to the recycling of nutrients in the environment. Without them our Earth would be covered in rotting material.
Biodiversity is also important:
- in its own it not just as a value to humans and how we can it
- for traditional foods, cultural identity and practices
- for contributing to the economy through tourism and recreation
- for developming of medicines
- for securing carbon dioxide.