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Olympic impacts: nature and biodiversity

Tree [10KB]Planet Earth is home to a rich variety of living organisms. As the human population continues to expand into natural areas we risk losing some of these valuable biological assets and their conservation becomes increasingly important.

Large scale Olympic developments can have wide reaching impacts on biodiversity, even when development takes place in an urban centre. An environmentally sensitive development plan can prevent further biodiversity loss, and can even contribute toward increasing biodiversity.

An excellent example of biodiversity creation is that of Sydney Olympic Park. Before the Olympics of 2000 it was disused land that had been home to brickworks and an abattoir. (Greenpeace Australia, 2000). The park was purpose built for the Sydney Games and is now managed by the New South Wales Sydney Olympic Park Authority which is mandated to manage the park along the principles of ecologically sustainable development, thereby contributing to the city’s ecological, aesthetic and educational aims and values.

The 640 hectare site is a mixture of woodland, grassland and wetland, making it an excellent habitat for species that are threatened by urbanisation such as the fauna that is moving away from the drought prone areas of New South Wales.

The park is home to a variety of plants, animals and ecological communities including:

  • 400 native plant species
  • 200+ native vertebrate animal species
  • 3 endangered ecological communities
  • 180+ species of native bird
  • 7 species of frog
  • 10 species of bat
  • 10 species of reptiles
  • native fish species
  • many thousands of species of invertebrates
  • protected marine vegetation, and 2 threatened plants.

(see Sydney Olympic Park Authority, 2008 and Campell, 2001 in 'Related external resources', right))

At the other extreme, the biodiversity legacy left after Athens 2004 has been roundly criticised by environmental NGOs. Much of the Schinias wetlands and coastal forest was damaged by Olympic development and construction. Worst still, a report by WWF claims that the promised ecological restoration of parts of the wetland and the undertaking to protect the rare coastal forest was never carried out. Instead, the forest is full of litter and is not protected against fire, while piles of debris have been abandoned around the construction site itself (see WWF Greece, 2004, in 'Related external resources' right)

The situation after Beijing 2008 was a more positive one. 720 green spaces in the city centre were created, with more than 30 million trees and bushes planted.

Getting started with the British Library's collections

Jeffries, Mike Biodiversity and conservation London: Routledge, 2006.
London reference collections shelfmark: YC.2006.b.910

DS shelfmark: m06/.13598 DSC

Wilson, Edward O. and Wilson, Don E. Biodiversity II : understanding and protecting our biological resources
Joseph Henry Press, 1997.
London reference collections shelfmark (B) CC 34

DS shelfmark: 96/30518

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Related external resources

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.

WWF Greece (2004) Environmental assessment of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games (Word document)

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