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Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms associated with land and water - the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genetic information they contain, and the ecosystems they form. An intact biodiversity is critical to the functional integrity of all ecosystems (Roth et al. 2002). Due to biodiversity elements and processes underpinning many other natural assets of the region, discussion of various biodiversity values and threats are also referred to in other areas such as Land and Soils, pests and weeds, coastal and marine and surface water.

Biodiversity underpins the processes that make life possible. Healthy ecosystems are necessary for maintaining and regulating atmospheric quality, climate, fresh water, marine production, soil formation, cycling of nutrients and waste disposal. Biodiversity also supports economic activities, with Australian native plants and animals attracting tourists and providing food, medicines, energy and building materials. Our biodiversity is a reservoir of resources that remains relatively untapped. Biodiversity is also central to the cultures of Aboriginal people.

Biodiversity provides numerous services of considerable value for the Burdekin Dry Tropics region, although its values and services also extend well beyond the regional boundary to include national and international benefits. The values and services provided by biodiversity are listed below:

Values and Services


Genetic biodiversity -future sources of food and medicine

Ecological services and keystone species to support life systems

Nutrient cycling and filtration

Managing water quality and flow

Carbon sinks and greenhouse gas absorption

Stabilising processes (weather\climate, geomorphic, soils)

Biological control of pests

Cultural identity associated with key species

Spiritual, existence, bequest and cultural Traditional Owner values

Eco-tourism and nature-based recreation

Aesthetics and amenity


High species diversity

Habitat for fish production

Filter function (floodplains retain sediments and nutrients, decreasing export to estuarine and marine environments)

Efficacy of geomorphic function and flow regime

Significant refuge for fauna (esp. in the rangelands)

The Burdekin Dry Tropics is an incredibly biodiverse region with biodiversity assets of national and international significance. Although dominated by savannah woodlands and grasslands its natural ecosystems span the full suite of tropical biodiversity and include mountainous rainforests, large river systems and coral reefs. The Region forms a biogeographic feature known as the 'dry corridor' (Kikkawa & Pearce 1969) which adjoins wet tropical bioregions to the north and south extends the range of fauna and flora more typical of the drier interior to the coast.

The region is comprised of the three main bioregions, the Brigalow Belt North, the Desert Uplands and the Einasleigh Uplands (NLWRA 2002). Portions of the Wet Tropics, Central Queensland Coast, Southern Brigalow Belt and Gulf Plains Bioregion also fall within the region. A large number of marine bioregions also occur in the adjoining marine environment, including:

  • non-reef bioregions,
  • the Inner Shelf Seagrass,
  • Inner Mid Shelf Lagoon
  • Outer Shelf Inter Reef - Central,
  • Outer central Inner Reef,
  • Western Pelagic Platform,
  • NU Terraces and Central Off Shelf Bioregions and reef bioregions,
  • Coastal Central Reefs,
  • Central Open Lagoon Reefs,
  • Exposed Mid Shelf Reefs, and
  • Outer Shelf Reefs Bioregions.

(GBRMPA 2003)

Within the terrestrial bioregions there is a high diversity of vegetation types that in combination with particular landform settings form Regional Ecosystems (Sattler and Williams 1999). Open woodlands and grasslands dominated by Eucalypts and Acacias predominate. Other vegetation types include:

  • closed riparian forests,
  • rainforests,
  • open forest,
  • vine thickets,
  • sedgelands and open wetlands,
  • mangrove and freshwater swamp forests,
  • coastal dune communities and
  • seagrass meadows

Biodiversity values associated with this habitat diversity include recognised centres of species richness and endemism for Coastal and Woodland birds (>300 species), mammals (>70 species), fish reptiles, amphibians, eucalyptus and acacias (NLWRA 2002). The Brigalow Belt, Desert Uplands and the Einasleigh Uplands bioregions are considered National Biodiversity 'hotspots' (DEH 2003). The many significant biodiversity assets of the region also include parts of two World Heritage Areas, (The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics), and other coastal and terrestrial protected areas including Parks and Conservation Parks, State and Commonwealth Marine Parks, Fish Habitat Areas and Dugong Protection Areas. Voluntary Conservation Agreements negotiated between private landholders and State Government agencies also cover several sites of recognised biodiversity value within the region.


Roth, C.H., Lawson, G and Cavanagh, D 2002. Overview of the key Natural Resource Management Issues in the Burdekin Catchment, with particular reference to Water Quality and Salinity. Burdekin Catchment Condition Study Phase 1. Report commissioned by Department of Natural Resources and Mines on behalf of the Burdekin Dry Tropics Board. CSIRO Land and Water. Townsville.

Kikkawa J. and Pearce L. 1969 Geographical distribution of land birds in Australia - a numerical analysis. Australian Journal of Zoology, 17:821-840

NLWRA 2002 Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2003. National Land and Water Resource Audit. Canberrra.

GBRMPA 2003 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Australian Government.

Sattler P.S. and Williams R. D. Eds 1999 The conservation status of Queensland's bioregional ecosystems. Environmental Protection Agency. Queensland.

DEH 2003 Kemp Declares Biodiversity Hotspots - A World First. Australia's Biodiversity Hostspots. Department of Environment and Heritage. Canberra Australia.

Biodiversity photograph.jpg

This is a legacy website. Content is not being updated but is kept as an archive.
Updated NRM information is now held in the NQ Dry Tropics NRM Information Portal at
while corporate information about NQ Dry Tropics is held on our main website at
NQ Dry Tropics Website

Pages in category "Biodiversity"

The following 2 pages are in this category, out of 2 total.