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Australia's Disappearing Plants

Why conserve them?
How do I know which plants are threatened?
What can I do?
Threatened Australian plant images

In danger of extinction?The threatened Eucalyptus rhodantha. Photo: copyright Murray FaggSince 1770, more than 60 species of Australian plants have become extinct (as far as we can tell) and over 1100 are under threat. Australian plants continue to be threatened by our increasing need for space and natural resources.

The main causes of change to Australia's vegetation since European settlement have been large-scale clearing and cultivation of land, followed by grazing, then industrial and urban development and weed competition. All have taken their toll on Australia's unique flora.

Why conserve Australian plants?

Australia is the most biologically diverse developed country in the world. There are roughly 22 000 described species of vascular plants in Australia (higher plants, not mosses, fungi etc.), 85% of which are found nowhere else. Some species, like the Wollemi Pine, provide us with a living link with the time of the dinosaurs. Others, like the Banksias are of great commercial importance to the wildflower industry. Still others, like the Tea Trees and Eucalypts, offer important medicinal properties. But most importantly of all, plants form the basis for all other life - maintaining oxygen levels and healthy water tables, providing food for humans and animals alike, and performing countless other vital functions. In short, "If you like to breathe and you like to eat, you should care more about plants." (David Brackett, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission).

How do I know which plants are under threat?

There are a number of lists compiled in Australia which give the threat status of Australian plants. Some are national lists, and others are compiled on a state or territory basis. These lists are often part of Federal and state threatened species legislation. Further information can be found on our Internet Directory of Plant Conservation Resources.

What can I do to help save Australia's plants?

Get involved! Join ANPC! There are plenty of ways that you can make a difference