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The Role of Biodiversity in the SEQ Ecosystem Services Framework

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                           Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms from all sources,
                                         terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, 
                                      and the ecological complexes of which they are a part

 

Coral reefs are one of the most genetically and species diverse ecosystems on Earth.

The term biodiversity includes the diversity of ecosystems.

According to the international Convention on Biological Diversity, biological diversity or 'biodiversity', can be defined as 'the variability among living organisms from all sources, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and ecosystems'. In short, biodiversity has 3 components - the diversity of genes, the diversity of species and the diversity of ecosystems.

Recently, theoretical and empirical work has identified linkages between changes in biodiversity and the way ecosystems function. Although extensive additional research is required to more fully understand the role of the functional components of an ecosystem, research has shown that even minor losses in the number of species may reduce the capacity of ecosystems to perform their function. Biodiversity therefore has an 'insurance' role in the SEQ Ecosystem Services Framework.

Biodiversity is recognised as an important feature of healthy ecosystems because it increases their flexibility and resilience in the face of change. Some species can perform the same process within an ecosystem (generalist species), however many other specific species (keystone) make unique contributions to the efficient functioning of the system (e.g. fix nitrogen). The possibility of reducing ecosystem function is increased as more species are lost due to reductions in substitutability. Biodiversity and ecosystem functions are co-dependant and therefore biodiversity is vital to maintaining functioning ecosystems, just as ecosystem functionality is vital to the persistence of biodiversity. 

As the Framework does not consider endandered, rare or threatened species as they may or may not provide benefits to people, it should not be assumed in the application of this Framework that ecosystem service conservation is equivalent to biodiversity conservation. The type of conservation method or framework that should be applied is dependant on the desired conservation outcome (see Key Principles). 

This Framework does not replace the Biodiversity Planning Assessment for SEQ or the Queensland Herbarium's Regional Ecosystems which provide information on the status of vegetation and biodiversity (e.g. flora and fauna) in SEQ. It is suggested that this Framework be used in conjunction with the Biodiversity Planning Assessment to add value by identifying areas that give priority to both biodiversity conservation for its own sake and ecosystem service conservation for people sake. Those applying the Framework should seek the appropriate balance between, and integration of, conservation and use of biodiversity. The Regional Ecosystems database has been incorporated into this Framework - see Ecosystem Reporting Categories for more information. 

 

In attempting to assess the importance of biodiversity to our own lives,
we should not lose sight of the value placed on the variety of life for its own sake.