By Murray Ralph
What is biodiversity and Why is it so important? Biodiversity is short for biological diversity, and includes all plants, animals, fungi, microorganisms and the ecosystems that support them.
All life, including humans, depends on healthy and functioning ecosystems to provide:
- a stable climate that ecosystems, and in particular plants, help to maintain clean air, clean water and healthy soils
- protection from devastating and costly land degradation, such as salinity
- natural pest control and pollination for agricultural crops
- food, medicines, timber and recreation
What are the main threats to biodiversity in this area?
- climate change
- clearing and habitat fragmentation
- overgrazing by pest or introduced animals
- inappropriate fire regimes
- loss of hollow bearing trees
- loss of wetland habitats
What can you do to protect and enhance biodiversity on your property?
Individual landowners can contribute to protecting biodiversity in the local landscape in a variety of ways:
- Avoiding or minimising the clearing of native vegetation
- Fencing remnant vegetation to protect from grazing by livestock
- Controlling weeds, such as blackberry, broom and gorse, that invade bushland
- Expanding or improving the quality of existing native vegetation by planting indigenous plants
- Controlling feral pests such as rabbits, foxes and cats
- Ensuring that domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, do not kill or injure wildlife
- Leave fallen logs, large dead standing trees and rocky areas as they provide habitat for native animals
Landowners also have legal responsibilities regarding the management of native vegetation and fauna on their properties. Under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and Victorian Planning Provisions 1996, a planning permit is required to destroy, remove or lop native vegetation on private land (some exemptions apply). All native animal species are protected.