Australia is one of the world’s most diverse natural places!

The earth is a remarkable, exciting place, packed full of animals and plants.  It is estimated that the world has 5,400+ mammals, 10.000+ species of birds, 10,000+ reptiles (and growing), 7,300+ amphibians, 950,000+ insects and around 310,000 species of higher plants.

But did you know that most of these can be found in 12 countries?  These 12 are the Mega-diverse Nations (1).

mega-diverse nations of the world
60-70% of the earth’s species reside in these 12 nations.

Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo (DR Congo), Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru together hold 60-70% of the world’s species.

Many of these nations are home to a host of endemic species – that is, species that occur nowhere else.  Australia is home to 210 endemic mammals (5% of the world’s total), 355 endemic birds, 616+ endemic reptiles (nearly 10% of the world’s total reptiles) and 14,458 endemic plants.

Unfortunately, many of these countries are also on the UN list of the worst forest-clearing nations (2).

Mega-diverse nations and worst land-clearing nations compared
Orange nations are mega-diverse but also in 20 worst nations for deforestation. Yellow nations are in 20 worst for deforestation. Red nations are mega-diverse but not in worst 20 for deforestation.

The worst land-clearing nations on earth are, in order (in bold are the countries that are also the mega-diverse nations):

Brazil, Indonesia, Sudan, Zambia, Mexico, Australia, Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Peru, Cote d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Cameroon, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Angola.

Aussies, unlike most of these countries, we are a developed wealthy economy.  Why are we still cutting down forest that is home to a world-class fauna and flora diversity??


(1) Burgman & Lindenmayer “Conservation for the Australian Environment”

(2) United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2001, Forest Resources Assessment 2000,
UNFAO.  Unfortunately I can’t find any information more recent than this.  I have read that Australian rates of deforestation had reduced since this time, but have very recently increased again.  Even so, as Australia is 6th on the list of 20, we would have to reduce deforestation greatly to get off this list.


3 thoughts on “Australia is one of the world’s most diverse natural places!

  1. Inspiring work and biodiversity is so special. Let’s hope there can be more done to help all those other places. My friend in Peru said mining companies held the power there. At the moment trying to take action against the Spanish bank Santander bank rolling a paper company the is destroying Indonesian forest illegally… Good luck in your part of the world.

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