What is biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms on earth—the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes, and the terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems of which they are a part.

This diversity exists at different scales: regional diversity, ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. Biodiversity is not static, but constantly changing. It is increased by genetic change and evolutionary processes and reduced by processes such as habitat degradation, population decline and extinction.

Why biodiversity matters

Biodiversity underpins a range of ecosystem services.

Healthy and well-functioning freshwater, terrestrial and marine ecosystems are important for a productive and healthy environment. Intact or well-connected ecosystems provide habitat for native plants and animals, including humans, and provide ecosystem services such as clean water for drinking and fertile soils and oceans for production.

Biodiversity is also closely linked to culture, especially for Indigenous people.

Traditional owners stress the importance of conserving biocultural diversity—not only the plants and animals of a place but the people, knowledge, stories, songs and traditions as well biodiversity and culture.

Ecological, economic and social values of biodiversity are all vital to economic growth, job creation and technical development. Fishing and seafood industries, for example, are largely dependent on natural ecological systems for productivity.

Domestic and international visitors come to Queensland to enjoy nature-based activities such as visiting national parks, bushwalking and whale watching. These and other activities contribute billions of dollars to the economy.

Native plants and wildlife from the reefs, rainforests, savannas and wetlands provide the basis for a world-class biodiscovery industry, which develops natural bioproducts such as natural pesticides and pharmaceuticals.

Biodiversity across land and sea

Terrestrial biodiversity in Queensland has experienced major threats such as land clearing and habitat fragmentation, including the continuing impacts of past clearing, grazing pressure, invasive plants and animals and changed fire regimes.

Freshwater biodiversity is experiencing much greater rates of decline than other environments and is threatened by pollution, over‑exploitation of water, modification of water flows and hydrology, habitat destruction and degradation, and species invasion.

Marine and estuarine biodiversity has suffered as a result of pollution and sedimentation from industry and land-use practices, coastal development and habitat loss, marine pest invasion, dredging and spoil disposal, unsustainable fishing and recreational impacts.

Ecosystems services

Aside from the intrinsic value of biodiversity, natural systems deliver services across a huge spectrum that we access on a daily basis.

Provisioning services

  • food, fibre and fuel
  • genetic resources
  • biochemicals
  • freshwater.

Cultural services

  • recreation and aesthetic values
  • spiritual and religious values
  • knowledge system
  • education and inspiration
  • sense of place.

Supporting services

  • primary production
  • provision of habitat
  • nutrient cycling
  • soil formation and retention
  • production of atmospheric oxygen
  • water cycling.

Regulating services

  • invasion resistance
  • herbivory
  • pollination
  • seed dispersal
  • climate regulation
  • pest regulation
  • disease regulation
  • natural hazard protection
  • erosion regulation
  • water purification.


  • drugs
  • insecticides and herbicides
  • industrial enzymes
  • products with application to bioremediation.