Biodiversity key to thriving Northern Australia

May 21, 2020

Far North Queensland is home to over 500 threatened plant and animal species and we need to act fast to save them from extinction.

That’s the message from North Queensland Natural Resource Management Alliance Chair Dr Keith Noble on International Day for Biological Diversity.

NQ NRM Alliance members Terrain NRM, Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf RMG are currently working on better understanding and protecting threatened species including littoral vine forest and ant plants, the southern cassowary, golden–shouldered parrots and mahogany gliders.

“We are working closely with land managers, Threatened Species Recovery teams and Traditional Owners to restore and protect habitat for threatened species as well as better manage key threats such as wildfires and invasive pest animal and plant species,” Dr Noble said.

“Far North Queensland is home to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is recognised internationally for its ecological significance and attracts tourists from all over the world. It has immense cultural significance and continued connection to Traditional Owners, and supports rich and diverse agriculture. The natural environment sustains our economies and our livelihoods, and we all have a responsibility to look after it.

“Society is dependent on thriving natural resources, and when species become extinct we risk the collapse of whole ecosystems. It might seem an overwhelming task but together we can deliver real change. Local knowledge combined with science is a powerful resource, and we encourage locals to get involved.”

Dr Noble said this year’s International Biological Diversity Day was a sobering reminder of our impact on the natural environment. It follows a submission by NQ NRM Alliance to the Australian Government’s review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“Australia has the most significant documented decline in biodiversity of any continent over the past 200 years," Dr Noble said. "One hundred animal species and nearly 100 plant species are listed as extinct. Our rate of species decline continues to be among the world’s highest, and is the highest in the OECD, but we can change this trajectory.

“Australia is home to three-quarters of a million species, and over 80 per cent of these plants and animals and nearly half our birds are found only in Australia.

“We have a responsibility to protect our natural heritage.”

This project is supported by Terrain NRM, Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf RMG, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.