Australia needs to embark on an urgent mission to formally document more than half a million undiscovered plants and animals before they are lost to science and the planet. The Australian Academy of Science says some $824m will be needed over the next 25 years to complete a mammoth task becoming more urgent as the climate crisis puts more species at risk of extinction. Economic research commissioned by the academy and released today argues every dollar spent on the taxonomy mission could deliver between $4 and $35 in benefits. Australia is estimated to have 750,000 different species of plants, animals and insects, but about 70% are either undiscovered or have not been formally described in the scientific literature. The academy’s proposal would see all of Australia’s species properly documented and recorded over the next 25 years. The Deloitte Access Economics report says such a mission could deliver between $3.7bn and $28.9bn in economic returns over the next 25 years. Economic benefits include the discovery of new drugs, improvements to biosecurity with invasive species easier to identify, and new crops developed from hybridisation of newly discovered species. Associate Prof Kevin Thiele, director of the academy’s Taxonomy Australia organisation, said: “Every […]


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