Glossary and useful terms

Biodiversity
The variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part. Biodiversity includes diversity within and between species and the diversity of ecosystems.
Conservation
The careful use, protection and management of ecosystems, heritage and natural resources to ensure their long-term viability. It is different from 'preservation' which refers to maintaining a pristine state of nature as it is or might have been before the intervention of human activities.
Cultural heritage
Movable and immovable objects of artistic, architectural, historical, archaeological, ethnographic, paleontological and geological importance. It includes information or data relative to cultural heritage pertaining to Australia or to any other country.
Culture
The symbolic and learned, non-biological aspects of human society, including language, custom and convention. The concept of culture is often used synonymously with 'civilisation'. However, it does have a range of meanings, including understandings of culture as norms and values; culture as meaning; and culture as human activity.
Diversity
The quality of being different or varied. Diversity occurs in many aspects of our lives - cultural, social, economic and biological - and our lives would be impoverished without it.
Eco-efficiency
A strategy for maximising the productivity of material and energy inputs to a production process while also reducing resource consumption and waste production, and generating cost savings and competitive advantage.
Ecology
The relationship between living things and their environments.
Ecological diversity
The variety of biological communities or ecosystems in a given area.
Ecological footprint
A measure of the consumption of renewable natural resources by a human population. A population's ecological footprint is the total area of productive land or sea needed to produce all the crops, meat, seafood, wood and fibre it consumes, to meet its energy consumption, to give space for its infrastructure and to absorb its wastes. The ecological footprint can be compared with the biologically productive capacity of the available land and sea to see if the population is sustainable in the long term. The measure can be applied to an individual, a family, a school, a community, a country or the whole world.
Ecologically sustainable development
Involves decision making processes that integrate long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations. Ecologically sustainable development incorporates the principle of intergenerational equity - that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
Education for sustainability
Equips people with the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to make decisions based upon their full environmental, social and economic implications. It facilitates change by building capacity and motivation for action through promoting visioning, critical thinking and reflection, systemic thinking, participation and partnerships for change.
Environment
Includes ecosystems and their constituent parts, natural and physical resources, the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas, the heritage values of places, and the social, economic and cultural aspects of these things.
Ethics
Beliefs about what is right and wrong behaviour
Heritage
The heritage value of a place includes the place's natural and cultural environment having aesthetic, historic, scientific, social, or other significance, for current and future generations.
Human rights
The fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association which ensure access to democratic participation and the ability to meet basic human needs.
Indigenous
People or things that are native to or exist naturally in a particular country, region or environment.
Indigenous knowledge
Knowledge that is unique to a culture or society. Other names for it include 'local knowledge', 'folk knowledge', 'people's knowledge', 'traditional wisdom' or 'traditional science'. This indigenous knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation, health care, education, conservation and the wide range of other activities that sustain societies in many parts of the world.
Life-cycle analysis
A management tool for identifying the net flows of resource and energy used in the production, consumption and disposal of a product or service in order to leverage eco-efficiency gains.
Natural capital
The Earth's natural resources and ecological systems that provide vital life-support services to society and all living things. The services are of immense economic value; some are literally priceless since they have no known substitute.
Quality of life
The standard of life that an individual enjoys. Quality of life goes beyond equating well-being with income. It includes such things as environmental health, the satisfaction of relationships with others and dignifying work.
Social justice
The concept that all people should have equal access to services and goods produced in a global community. It includes ideas of environmental health, and gender, religious, sexual, racial and ethnic equality.
Stewardship
The responsibility of being a caretaker or custodian of the environment by managing activities with due respect for the health of that environment. It means taking care of what we have not only for ourselves, but also for those who come after us.
Sustainability
The quest for a sustainable society - one that can persist over generations without destroying the social and life support systems on which current and future generations of humans (and all other species on Earth) depend upon.
Sustainable consumption
The use of services and related products to satisfy basic human needs and provide a good quality of life while minimising the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product.
Sustainable development
Development that meets the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To be sustainable, any use of resources needs to take account of the stock of resources and the impacts of its utilisation on the ecological, social and economic situation of people today and in the future.
Sustainable production
Industrial processes that transform natural resources into products that society needs in ways that minimise the resources and energy used, the wastes produced, and the effects of work practices and wastes on communities.

1 The glossary has been compiled from various sources, including the following: Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; J Fien, Education for Sustainability, 2001; NSW Department of Education & Training, Environmental Education Policy for Schools, 2001; UNESCO, Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future, 2002; UK Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Education for Sustainable Development website, 2004, www.qca.org.uk .