Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. It is home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. The country has diverse landscape formations ranging from snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest runoff and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents. There are 17 Australian properties on the World Heritage List, with 10.5 per cent of its natural environment protected by national environmental legislation. It is also one of the world’s least densely populated countries.
Western Australia is the largest State by surface area (975,101 square miles), located on the west coast of the continent. Geologically, Western Australia consists of 9 regions, which are considered some of the oldest and most recent. The oldest minerals of the world have been discovered at the Jack Hills and the Yilgarn Craton of the Great Western Plateau. Most of the State has been above sea level for over 2.5 billion years, giving it some of the oldest soils on the planet.
The ecology of Western Australia is diverse, reflecting the wide range of climatic conditions including tropical wet-dry climates in the Kimberley region (which includes the world heritage listed Shark Bay), arid climates covering the Great Sandy Desert, Central Australian Desert, Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert, and mediterranean climate covering the south west of the State.