Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of the continent’s flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds and 89% of inshore, temperate-zone fish are endemic – that is, they are only found in Australia.
Over the 200 years since European settlement, extensive clearing of native vegetation has removed, changed or fragmented habitats. Human activity and natural events such as fire, drought and flood continue to change Australia’s ecology. Such change affects the interactions within ecological communities, and can reduce their diversity and threaten the survival of many native species.
In Australia, 80% of mammals and plants are endemic as well as 45% of the birds. source
The impact of humans on the natural environment is significant and growing, causing changes in biodiversity that have been more rapid in the past 50 years than at any time before in human history. source
Devil Facial Tumour Disease is one of only three recorded cancers that can spread like a contagious disease… As at February 2011, there has been an 84% decline in average sightings of devils across Tasmania during the annual spotlight surveys. source
Australia is one of only 17 countries recognised as “mega-diverse”, meaning we support a significant proportion of the world’s biodiversity. source
Of the over 80,000 tree species, less than 1 per cent have been studied for potential use. source
Threatened Species Link: detailed information on Tasmanian plant and animal species including distribution maps.
World Conservation Union (IUCN): click on “Species” to see a detailed list. Sections include basic information, news stories and videos/photos.
World Conservation Union Red List: the Union’s Red List of Threatened Species has information, ranking and suggested actions.
Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage: the biodiversity page covers everything from threatened species to biodiversity hotspots.
The Guardian – Environment: current stories, videos and images of species around the world.
Australian Academy of Science – Science for Curious Minds: need to search a bit but covers great things like bees, and biodiversity in a succinct manner.
Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania: factual information but list is 2003, so take care and double check.
World Wildlife Fund (Australia): up to date news and resources, competitions and ways to help.
The Wilderness Society: news, videos and current campaigns.
Wildscreen Arkive: information for all ages; good news and links.
All About WildLife: endangered species list and facts – all current.
ypte – Young People’s Trust For the Environment: easy to navigate site, with interesting information.
CITES: a thorough examination of international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.
Endangered Species in Australia: 6:39 minute educational video.
Stories from the Sea: surprising stories as eighteen old ‘sea dogs’ talk about how things used to be below Tasmania’s unique seas.
Sumatran Tigers and Paper Mills: see how they are connected in this 4 minute film clip.
Interactive games: from The World Wildlife Fund – a mixed bag, so pick and choose.
WWF Together (IPad app) – play with the pandas and explore the dangers they face.
Other learning resources
A Fairer World has posters, classroom activities, books, DVDs and web links on global issues such as biodiversity and threatened species. Contact us for a complete list of resources available free or on loan to members.