Australia has some of the world’s last great wilderness areas, with nearly a billion acres remaining largely unaltered by the expansion of industrial civilization. Around that core of wild lands, hundreds of millions more acres are healthy enough that they can still support the maintenance of resilient ecosystems.

In addition to its terrestrial treasures, Australia has some of the world’s most intact marine areas. Its tropical waters include the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s iconic marine systems. In addition, its southern temperate waters are highly biodiverse, with many species restricted to those seas. Australian marine areas include productive and diverse areas in both tropical and temperate seas that remain relatively undisturbed.

Australia’s wilderness harbors an astonishing and exotic array of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic, existing only in that one place in the world. Indeed, Australia ranks first among all nations in total number of uniquely native mammal and reptile species, and among the top five countries in total numbers of endemic plants, birds and amphibians.

Although there are several ambitious biodiversity or wilderness conservation efforts underway in Australia, not nearly enough is being done. Pew has developed and supported the Australia program, which will be an ambitious, three-year effort to identify and protect large wilderness and marine areas of outstanding biodiversity significance in Australia.

Photo: Copyright 2008, John O’Neill 
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