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Life, the Universe and Jarrah

The Story of the Universe
The Earth and everything in it is part of a universe scientists think has grown from a small fireball. Scientists believe the fireball began to expand between 8 and 20 billion years ago. Before the fireball there were no "things". When the fireball appeared it was one "thing". When it expanded it became many "things", with space between each of them.

These things organised themselves into patterns which we call atoms, forces, gases, stars, light, galaxies, suns, supernovas, planets and so on.

It took all these things billions of years of breaking up and reassembling before they formed the patterns we recognise and name.

One such organised pattern of things is our planet Earth. The story of Earth had begun. But Earth could not live its rich and beautiful life story without the rest of the universe.

The Story of Earth
The assembling, breaking up and reassembling - the organising and reorganising of things continued on Earth. Eventually patterns we now call air, rocks, water, weather, soil, plants and animals emerged from the same things that spread out from the original fireball.

The Story of Jarrah
When the fireball first came into existence, it held within it the probability that a jarrah forest, with a rich assembly of other plants and animals, would emerge on the Darling Range in south western Australia.  This is because there appears to be an order in the way every thing expanded into the universe.

These expressions of order are called systems,... like the solar system and living systems, or ecosystems.


An ecosystem is a system of soils, plants and animals that live together in communities.  Different ecosystems arise because of differ­ent soil and weather conditions. Different soil and weather conditions arise because of their positions on the earth. Different positions on the earth arise because of the places where different elementary things assem­bled. All these arisings happened because earth itself was located in exactly the right place in the solar system for them to happen. Earth was located in the right place because of the way things expanded from the fireball.

Thus, the only place in the universe that could assem­ble all the things needed to grow into the diverse species that make up the jarrah forest, was the Darling Range.

The Darling Range system of soils, weather, plants and animals contribute an enormous number of genes to earth's supply.
That is, the system is made up of many species. It has great Biodiversity. It also has a complicated set of relationships between species.

When these relationships are too much disturbed it may mean species are extinguished, or put at risk.

The Importance of Jarrah Remnants
Over the last hundred years about half the original jarrah forest, that covered all the land around the Darling Range, has been removed to make way for agriculture and human settlement. Much of the remain­der has been disturbed in some way.

Fragments of the original forest remain in isolated patches, usually small, often on farms and roadsides. These remnants are usually neglected, even abused as there has been little appreciation of their importance.

But these remnants often function as refuges for populations of rare plants, or even animals, that are just 'hanging on' in the face of extinction. Here, the gene pool, which is the source of health to a population if it is large and varied, is small; isolation restricts the chance of increase. Roadside remnants may form the critical corridors that link otherwise isolated populations.

Hence scattered remnants of the jarrah forest ecosys­tem have a significance much greater than their size and nature would indicate. Each remnant harbours and protects a proportion of the rich Biodiversity of the whole. To what degree they do this no-one knows.

Can I live without the diverse species of plants and animals that make up life on Earth?

No. Humans are related to the Earth itself, and to all species of plants and animals. We are also related to the sun, moon and stars. We need their help to live.

And the little patches of jarrah bush, how do they help us to go on living?

To understand that, we need to know about the story of the universe.

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