Tasmanian Times

David Obendorf

The state of Tasmania’s biodiversity highlighted in the International Year of Biodiversity

A recent study authored by Dr Peter McQuillan (University of Tasmania, School of Geography & Environmental Studies) and other ecologists, published in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology, takes a new look at the condition and conservation of Tasmania’s unique biodiversity. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the multitude of species on the planet, the genes they contain and the ecosystems they maintain.

“Biodiversity is the fabric of life upon which we are totally reliant for clean air, water and natural resources,” says Dr Peter McQuillan of the School of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania.

Science shows that many species and landscapes are in decline with potentially disastrous consequences.

“Given the complexity of natural ecosystems we don’t know what effect the loss of a single species will have. We do know that when the natural environment is in good condition with healthy populations of native species that it is more resilient to threats such as weeds and climate change,” says Dr McQuillan

“For its size and location, Tasmania is one of the most biodiverse islands in the world but proper maintenance of this legacy is an ongoing challenge. We must arrest the ongoing decline of important species such as predators and pollinators, but the conservation of Tasmania’s outstanding fauna and flora must move beyond a narrow focus on threatened species alone. The present species by species approach is driven by current legislation, but is too slow, too expensive and largely ignores the important roles that all native species play in the environment.” says Dr McQuillan.

There are approximately 13 500 known species of plants, animals and fungi in Tasmania. This does not include marine species nor the estimated 50 000 species of terrestrial invertebrates and fungi that have yet to be discovered by science.

“650 species in Tasmania are considered rare or threatened, many of these are found nowhere else in the world. Some species, such as the orange-bellied parrot and several native fish are perilously close to extinction,” says co-author Nick Fitzgerald of the Wilderness Society.

“In the natural environment everything is related. We can’t possibly document, let alone manage, all of these interactions individually. The current approach to managing threatened species individually is ineffective and severely under-resourced. A better focus would be on managing entire landscapes to support wide-ranging animals and essential landscape processes like water flows in addition to all of the known and unknown species in each area.” says Nick Fitzgerald.

“The existing extent of reserves is not sufficient to conserve all the state’s biodiversity in the future. We need to make all our landscapes more ‘biodiversity friendly’ through clever management such as improving connectivity between isolated patches of bushland,” concludes Dr McQuillan.

Saturday 22nd May is the International Day for Biological Diversity which recognises the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Australia committed to the 2010 Biodiversity Target: “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.” (http://www.cbd.int/2010-target/)

The paper “The importance of ecological processes for terrestrial biodiversity conservation in Tasmania – a review” published in Pacific Conservation Biology is online at: http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=726394418868162;res=IELHSS

And, download:

Tasmanian biodiversity – background.pdf

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. David Obendorf

    May 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Tigerquoll [comment #4] it isn’t by accident or ignorance that biodiversity conservation in Tasmanian has been bundled into the Resource Department that has been variously rebadged over the last two decades – currently it’s called DPIPWE!

    Previous Ministers including the last one – David Llewellyn – had a rather split-personality pychosis in their public justification of why they could be the Minister for Threatened Species and at the same time the Minister for the Poison 1080.

    Llewellyn could see no conflict of interest whatsoever in being the Minister for both! He told Parliament and media this countless times during his Ministerial hold on the portfolio.

    Similarly right across the DPIPWE portfolio – water allocation versus environmental flows; chemical usage versus water quality; food safety standards versus animal welfare…the list is long and serious! Llewewllyn wore, and now his successor Bryan Green wears all the hats of resource ‘management’.

    It corrupts public policy & decision-making. But this is Taz-mania – it’s crazy but they’ve got away with it because they’ve had the majority power in Parliament to do so!

    Tasmania is now wreaking the consequences of that hubris and arrogance.

    Google Dr Louise Crossley’s May 2009 Report – “Paradoxes of Protection” for another insight into the consequences of this political games-manship.

  2. David Obendorf

    May 24, 2010 at 3:57 am

    I’ve arranged for a free pdf of this paper to be available on Tasmanian Times.

  3. Corey Peterson

    May 24, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Ahh, this is where science needs to be focussing on the applied aspects with real and relevant information provided directly to managers, policy and decision-makers. We must also as a society decide what is most important to us — passing on to the next generation the wonderfully diverse and life supporting ecosystems we ourselves have inherited or degrading these very same ecosystems for short term profit and individual economic “advancement”.

    This choice will determine the structures and processes we use to govern our society and direct the way(s) in which we live individually and collectively. What is obvious is that while there are many individuals saying they want to make that choice, their actions and support do not always lead to that stated aim. What is most distressing is that while people are waking up to the damages our lifestyles have wrought on the natural world we are losing the structural integrity that enables our thin but highly impacting veneer of civilisation.

  4. john hayward

    May 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    How sad that Tasmania’s ecological brains are so completely severed from the executive muscles.

    The sine qua non of any ecological progress here is the total replacement of our political taxa.

    John Hayward

  5. Redneck Ecologist

    May 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Is there a way to read the full text document witout having to pay $33…. surely if people want this article to be read by the people that count i.e. the ones that live here, this document should be made freely available to Tasmanians… It seems like any article that becomes worthy of being published is then excluded from interested/relevant parties… I work in the field of environmental management in Tassie but I’m not going to pay $30 odd dollars for a single article…

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Receive Our Weekly Tas Roundup

Copyright © Tasmanian Times. Site by Pixel Key

To Top