Environment of Australia

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Environment of Australia

Post  kosovohp on Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:09 pm

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests, and is recognised as a megadiverse country. Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota is unique and diverse. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds, and 89% of in-shore, temperate-zone fish are endemic.[143] Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any country, with 755 species.[144]

Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions, Wattles replace them in drier regions and deserts as the most dominant species.[145] Among well-known Australian fauna are the monotremes (the platypus and echidna); a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra.[145] Australia is home to many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world.[146] The dingo was introduced by Austronesian people who traded with Indigenous Australians around 3000 BCE.[147] Many plant and animal species became extinct soon after first human settlement,[148] including the Australian megafauna; others have disappeared since European settlement, among them the thylacine.[149][150]

Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced plant and animal species.[151] The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species.[152] Numerous protected areas have been created under the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity to protect and preserve unique ecosystems;[153][154] 65 wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention,[155] and 15 natural World Heritage Sites have been established.[156] Australia was ranked 46th of 149 countries in the world on the 2008 Environmental Performance Index

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