Less than 30% of the Species of Plants and Animals in Australia are Documented
CANBERRA, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Australian Academy of Sciences (AAS) on Friday launched a 10-year study, along with New Zealand's Royal Society Te Aprang, to name and study unknown species, saying a deep knowledge of biodiversity was key.
Time is running out to study Australia's unique species facing extinction, the nation's top scientists warned.
The AAS warned Australia's parliament that urgent funding was needed to avoid extinctions and identify bio-security solutions.
According to the AAS, only 30 percent of Australia's 600,000 species have been discovered, documented and named.
Kevin Thiele, a plant taxonomist who headed-up the working group that developed the 10-year plan, said that Australia named approximately 2,500 new species every year - more than any other country.
At the current rate it would take more than 400 years to document every plant, animal and other species - by which time many will have gone extinct.
"With careful planning and adequate capacity building, Australia could embark on a 'hypertaxonomy' program - we could completely document our biodiversity in a generation," Thiele said in a media release on Friday.
"This would put us at the global leading edge - and as the only developed nation in the world that is also biologically megadiverse, this is where we should be.
"Documenting our biodiversity is important - for conservation, bio-security, agriculture, human and animal health, and to understand the evolution of life on Earth."
An unrelated study published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that 10 Australian birds and seven mammal species are facing extinction in the next 20 years.
Andrew Holmes, president of the AAS, admitted that the plan was ambitious.
"Australia and New Zealand are currently world leaders in managing and deploying biodiversity knowledge. This plan seeks to ensure that this leadership is not lost," he said.
"With the appropriate investment and support from government, industry and society we can ensure that future generations, and the community at large, are able to enjoy and celebrate the unique value and immense potential of the plant and animal life in our country."
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