What is Biodiversity?

Biological diversity - Biodiversity - is the variety of life on earth in all its forms and is essential for the processes that support all life! From genes, and bacteria to entire ecosystems such as forests or coral reefs. The biodiversity we see today is the result of 4.5 billion years of evolution, increasingly influenced by humans.The full value of biodiversity remains beyond our definitive knowledge and also beyond our imagination.

More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests, and over 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihood. Without the range of animals, plants and microorganisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. [1] 

 All fauna and flora have a purpose. When any species becomes extinct, an ecosystem can lose its balance and break down. Without worms, bacteria and fungi in the soil, the trees on earth would not grow. Without bees and other pollinating insects many of our food producing plants would disappear. Biodiversity is of fundamental importance if all ecosystems, developed over millions of years, are to continue to flourish.


What is World Biodiversity Day?

World Biodiversity Day was a day set by the UN which aims to increase understanding and awareness on biodiversity issues.

The theme for 2023 is From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity. This theme builds on the landmark agreement of 188 governments in Montreal at COP 15 in December 2022 to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems, and protect indigenous rights. At COP 15 the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted. Among other measures, the plan includes concrete measures to halt and reverse nature loss, including putting 30 per cent of the planet and 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems under protection by 2030. Currently, 17 percent of land and 8 per cent of marine areas are under protection [2]

In June 2022, Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek committed to protect 30% of Australia’s land and waters by 2030, and following COP15, Australia also committed to have 30% of the landscapes already degraded, through things like farming and urban development, under restoration by 2030.


What threatens biodiversity?

A United Nations report has determined that about one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Australia has around 2000 flora and fauna species on the threatened list.

The five main drivers of biodiversity loss are: [3]

  1. ­Changes in land and sea use­ 
  2. Climate change­       
  3. Direct exploitation of natural resources
  4. Pollution
  5. ­Invasive species.

While the main driver of biodiversity loss is humans' use of land, primarily for food production, climate change is playing an increasingly important role in the decline of biodiversity.

Climate change has altered marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems around the world. It has caused the loss of local species, increased diseases, and driven mass mortality of plants and animals, resulting in the first climate-driven extinctions.

On land, higher temperatures have forced animals and plants to move to higher elevations or higher latitudes, many moving towards the Earth’s poles, with far-reaching consequences for ecosystems. The risk of species extinction increases with every degree of warming.


What is needed to prevent biodiversity loss?

This year, Australia will have to develop a plan for how it will achieve each of the goals and targets agreed at COP15 in Montreal. It will need to determine which rivers and forests will be added to the national protected area network to achieve a 30% target that is representative of the biodiversity that needs protecting. It will need to consider which degraded woodlands and wetlands to restore first. Additionally, it will need to commit funding and enact new laws to protect threatened species and ecosystems and ensure businesses reveal their impact on nature, avoid further harm, and repair the damage already caused.

The Federal Government will also have to submit its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in the lead up to the next nature COP, in 2024 and then provide regular progress reports, as does every country signed up to the UN Biodiversity Convention. 

Additionally, the Federal Government needs to:

  1. End destruction of native vegetation, including old growth forests and increase plantings of native vegetation and timber;
  2. Strengthen environmental and wildlife protections afforded by the EPBC Act 1999, including incorporating a climate trigger;
  3. Position Australia as an agricultural leader in the world, with a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 and development of a National Ruminant Emissions Reduction Program; and
  4. Australia must aim to reduce emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035, including declining all new coal, oil and gas projects in Australia. 

The science is clear. We must act now. Heatwaves, droughts, bushfires and intense rain events will become even more severe. Sea levels will rise, species will become extinct and crop yields and livestock production will fall. [4]


What can you do to help?

While climate change continues to pose a significant threat to animal health, welfare, production and biodiversity, the good news is we CAN halt catastrophic climate change. 


Join our Climate Care Program

The Climate Care Program by Vets for Climate Action, is empowering vet teams to take the lead on environmental sustainability and help bring a halt to climate change. Created by vets and vet nurses for veterinary teams, the Climate Care Program is designed to be realistic and workable in a busy veterinary practice.


Volunteer with us

Are you a social media influencer? A writer? Do you prefer to work behind the scenes? We have a number of roles to suit anyone, whether you’re a vet, vet nurse, vet student or an animal lover! We know our success is in large part due to our passionate and generous volunteers and we are always excited to bring new people into our volunteer community. To join our amazing volunteer team and be a voice for all animals, register your interest below. 


Donate to VfCA

We are non-partisan and funded by generous donations and grants. For us to achieve our vision of a world where animals and people thrive in a healthy climate, and would like to help us expand our impact please consider making a donation to Vets for Climate Action. As a DGR-registered charity, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.


Fundraise with us

You can help raise awareness and critical funds to help protect our animals from further climate change impacts by organising your very own activity. Your only limitation is your imagination! The best fundraising ideas are usually simple, fun and appeal to you on a personal level. If you feel enthusiastic about your activity, your family, friends and colleagues will too!

Instead of cards and gifts, perhaps ask loved ones to make a donation towards your fundraiser. Community fundraising is a great way to support our critical work on your special day.