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        Introduction

        Tasmanian pademelon

        Biological diversity (or biodiversity) is the variety of all life forms. It is the sum total of all species of plants and animals, their inherent genetic makeup, and the ecosystems that support the communities of interdependent species. This chapter gives an overview of Tasmania's biodiversity, highlighting biodiversity values and condition, the pressures affecting it, and management responses to these pressures. The chapter focuses on changes since the first SoE Report for Tasmania (SDAC 1997), although earlier baselines are used where data are available and relevant for describing conditions, trends and changes in biodiversity.

        The key issues that are discussed in the chapter can be accessed from the menu on the left of this page. This will take the reader to the summary 'At a glance' section for the particular issue selected. For a more in-depth analysis, 'Issue Reports' can also be accessed from these summary sections (follow the 'Continued in depth' link). All chapter content-including indicators, case studies and recommendations for the chapter-can be accessed through these Issue Reports.

        A brief summary of the key findings of the Biodiversity Chapter, with links back to the related Issue Reports for further detail, is also available. It includes information on the conditions and trends and what has been achieved since the previous SoE Report.

        Various lists of Biodiversity Chapter content are also available to assist in providing an overview of the chapter. An index of the indicators used within the Biodiversity Chapter is included. Various case studies relevant to the issues within this chapter are provided. A number of recommendations are also presented for this chapter.

        Biodiversity is often considered at three levels: ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. The conservation of biological diversity is a core requirement of ecologically sustainable development.

        Biological resources are essential for our well-being, primarily because they provide clean air and water, fertile soils, and food. Consequently, biodiversity issues relate to most aspects of the environment and its use by people. Ecosystems in good working order maintain air and water quality, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients, maintain soil fertility and decompose wastes. They also help to regulate pests and diseases, and provide food and other raw materials.

        Future generations of Tasmanians will rely on good biodiversity management and it is vital not to remove future options by exterminating species or destroying ecosystems.

        Aspects of biodiversity are also valued for their beauty and as a source of spiritual enrichment. Many people believe that all species have an inherent right to exist, irrespective of their potential utility to humans. As part of nature, all species and the habitats they need are worthy of respect.

        Tasmania's fauna and flora have strong past and present connections to the local culture. Aboriginal relationships with the land were influenced by the distribution and abundance of key plants and animals, and an intimate knowledge of their ecology.

        People's sense of place or identity is strongly linked with aspects of biodiversity that surround them. For example, the Tasmanian devil and thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) are unique tourist and advertising icons, incorporated in State and city crests, and recalled in the names of sporting clubs and cartoon characters. Tourists rate natural attractions very highly as an incentive to visit Tasmania and souvenirs in the shape of Tasmania's native animals or made from Tasmanian timbers are popular. Recreational pursuits such as ecotourism, bushwalking and nature study rely on the same natural ecosystems that have also inspired artists such as John Glover, Louisa Meredith, Steven Walker, Lloyd Rees, Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis.

        The Tasmanian flora and fauna also have great economic value, providing, among other things, food, medicines, energy, paper and other wood products. Ecological sustainability in agriculture, forestry and fisheries relies on managing biodiversity responsibly, and improving understanding of the processes that regulate biodiversity. The challenge for Tasmanians is to balance the exploitation with the preservation of biological resources so that the natural processes that sustain our biodiversity are not impaired.

        Contributors

        Many people and organisations have assisted greatly in compiling the State of the Environment Report. For this chapter, the Commission would like to acknowledge the kind assistance of the following:

        Greg Blake, Andrew Blakesley, Evan Boardman, Mick Brown, Sally Bryant, Tony Davidson, Louise Gilfedder, Gary King, Rod Knight, Helen Locher, Rob Taylor, Sophie Underwood, Stephen Waight, Alasdair Wells, Fiona Wells.

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        Last Modified: 14 Dec 2006
        URL: http://soer.justice.tas.gov.au/2003/bio/4/index.php
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