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Australia supports almost 10% of the biological diversity on Earth, making it one of the world’s 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries. The species found in Australia are unique, with 80% of mammals, reptiles and flowering plants found nowhere else in the world, including the spotted tail quoll and the bunya pine.
Its marine life is equally as diverse, supporting the world’s largest area of coral reef, the highest mangrove species diversity and the highest diversity of temperate seagrass. Such habitats support critical fish nurseries and iconic species such as the dugong and sea turtles.
However, climate change, habitat fragmentation for development and agriculture, and feral pests and weeds are continuing to put species and ecosystems at risk. The maintenance of Australia’s diverse habitats and the services they provide, such as pollination of crops, underpin Australia’s social, economic and environmental future.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working in partnership with local organisations and leading companies to address some of the issues that face this large and unique country. The FFI Australia programme is supporting the development of one of Australia’s newest Biospheres, the Great Sandy Biosphere, through the implementation of land management strategies and community engagement.
FFI Australia is working with Indigenous people to support their increased involvement in conservation. We are also engaging Australia’s corporate and business sector in environmental management strategies.
Fauna & Flora International is supporting Grey Nurse Shark Watch – a community-based photographic identification and monitoring project gathering information on grey nurse shark numbers, movements and distribution. Every shark is different, with a unique pattern of spots, making photographic identification an ideal way to differentiate between individuals. Photographs submitted by volunteers will contribute to a national database on the grey nurse shark, which will be made available to stakeholders, researchers and managers.
Wolf Rock in Queensland currently supports half the pregnant female population and is the only known aggregation site where females gestate before returning to New South Wales to pup. Protecting such sites is pivotal to the survival of the species, yet we still do not know where the other half of pregnant females aggregate. In the second part of the programme, using a Geographic Information System, the team prioritised 200 sites that share similar features and habitat to known aggregation sites. Over the next nine months, research teams will be deployed to potential aggregation sites to conduct habitat analysis using side-scan sonar and remote operated video whilst checking for sharks with baited underwater cameras. Pregnant female grey nurse shark tagged with special acoustic tags in southern Queensland in November 2011 will then be tracked using underwater ‘listening stations’ installed at potential sites.
The programme has been enabled through the collaboration of Fauna & Flora International, the Queensland Department of Environment & Resource Management, Burnett Mary Regional Group and the University of Queensland, with the generous support of Australian Capital Equity and Australia Zoo. The Grey Nurse Shark Watch database is hosted by Reef Check Australia.
FFI is working in partnership with the Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management (BMRG) to enhance conservation in the Burnett Mary Region of south-east Queensland. The region’s stunning Great Sandy Biosphere supports an especially diverse array of species and is an important stop-over for humpback whales.
Within the Great Sandy Biosphere, between Fraser Island and the mainland of south-east Queensland, Australia, lies the Great Sandy Strait. These coastal sandy habitats support species such as resident and migratory turtles and shorebirds, dugongs, and humpback whales. A little further south in the Great Sandy Marine Park, the endangered grey nurse shark can be found. However, pressure from fishing, unsympathetic tourist activity and the degradation of coastal habitats is putting the species that rely on these ecosystems at risk.…Read more