WA's outback is a natural wonder of global significance. Many of its plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world. Australia is blessed with a rich array of diverse and unique natural life, making us one of only two developed countries globally-renowned for being 'megadiverse'.

Outback heart

Outback nature is underpinned by a network of healthy ecological processes. These processes form the natural machinery that connects living and non-living things and keeps nature healthy.

Most of Australia - almost three quarters - is classified as outback. Yet most of Australia's population - over 95% - lives in other areas of Australia. While people have a role to play in sustaining the outback, this low population density has been part of what makes the outback unique.

The outback has some of Australia’s most variable weather. In Northern Australia, a regular monsoonal cycle results in relatively high annual rainfall along with long periods of dry. In central Australia, rainfall is low overall and highly erratic. Spells of dry years are punctuated by irregular episodes of major rain. The outback's wildlife has adapted to these uncommon patterns, leaving Australia with highly-distinctive and wondrous species.

Outback ecology is also underpinned by the outback's flat landscape and nutrient-poor soils. Iconic Australian eucalypts and banksias have evolved as a consequence of this environment. But the outback is abundant in other resources: sunlight, carbon dioxide and, seasonally, water. Outback plants tend to use these resources to manufacture a substantial amount of tissue, and sugars, all low in nutrients. This surprising abundance of sugar benefits nectar-eating birds, bats, and insects, and has given rise to adaptations such as those of the edible honeypot ant.

Our Outback is an amazing place, but what makes it special is at risk. 

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