THREAT TO BIODIVERSITY

Deforestation is Australia’s hidden emitter — like adding 10 million cars to our roads.

Without a liveable climate, the vulnerable ecosystems that sustain us, won’t. Deforestation is Australia’s hidden emitter — like adding 10 million cars to our roads. Australia’s deforestation front ranks in the global top 10, alongside Borneo, the Amazon and the Congo. It’s primarily driven by agriculture (mostly for beef production), mining and urban development.

Bulldozers drag thick chains through the landscape, snapping trees like matchsticks. This wood isn’t used for anything — it’s burned or left to rot. Carbon once stored in trees and soil goes back into the atmosphere. This wastes up to 10% of Australia’s carbon budget. Clearcutting of old growth forests is continuing in parts of Australia. This often involves the destruction of natural ecosystems and the replacement with monoculture plantations.

Source: The Wilderness Society

VEGETATION CLEARING

You may be surprised to learn that Australia is among the global list of top deforestation offenders.

This is still one of the biggest threats to wildlife throughout the world, including Australia, and is still continuing at a high rate,esepcially affecting animals that need:

A particular habitat type which is now scarce. Large home ranges, Particular resources (e.g. hollow branches in mature trees, special food items). To move between habitat types that are no longer adjacent. To migrate, and can’t fly long distances or traverse open spaces.

When a forest is cleared or a marsh drained, the animals generally cannot simply move into another locality. Even if suitable habitat exists it may not be reachable or is very likely to already have inhabitants that will not tolerate the newcomers.

Recent land-clearing figures show a disastrous increase in land-clearing rates in Queensland, including in Great Barrier Reef catchments, resulting in tens of millions of native animals being killed every year and countless habitats destroyed.

Right now, we have a massive land-clearing crisis on our hands. We simply can’t keep bulldozing our native woodlands. That’s not a pathway to a healthy, sustainable future.

Source: Wildlife Tourism Australia

FRAGMENTING CRITIAL BIOLINKS

Native plants and animals have an intrinsic right to exist, thrive and flourish.

Native plants and animals have an intrinsic right to exist, thrive and flourish. Multiple life forms contribute to biodiversity and have significant intrinsic value. Victorians have a duty to protect biodiversity, regardless of whether it provides tangible benefits to humans.

Fragmentation of the landscape over time has led to the decline of many native birds and mammals. As native trees, shrubs, and grasslands have been cleared to make way for farms, residences and infrastructure, mammals such as swamp wallabies, bandicoots, antechinus, echidna, and skinks have lost habitat and become vulnerable to feral cats and foxes. Many reptiles are also in decline due to loss of habitat and predation from introduced animals.

In order to be healthy, native landscapes must remain connected so that wildlife can move safely between areas of food and shelter. A landscape that is highly fragmented can trap animals in areas that are too small for their needs.

Biolinks are areas of bush and other habitat (such as waterways and stands of paddock trees) that connect areas of valuable habitat and forage. Biolinks enable wildlife to move freely and safely and have access to the broader landscape. This is increasingly important in light of climate change, as the requirement of animals to move to more suitable areas becomes critical.

Across Victoria, organisations, private landholders and individuals are doing great work for Victoria’s biodiversity. However, we can achieve even more when we work together. Many individuals participate in volunteer groups (examples include Friends groups, Field Naturalists, BirdLife, Coastcare, Landcare, Land for Wildlife), which hold and share valuable local knowledge, and deliver on-the-ground projects that address local and state conservation priorities.

In a fragmented (partially cleared) landscape biolinks to assist movement of animals can be can created by developing either (a) corridors to provide a continuous connection between habitat patches; or (b) and (c) patches of bushland that act like ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife, reducing the distances between individual habitat patches.

Clearing of trees, shrubs, and other plant growth areas for transmission line easements and access tracks will sever biolinks, resulting in permanent damage to, or loss of, significant plant and animal species from the area. Habitats are never able to recover to their original state because of the need to ensure ongoing accessibility to infrastructure for security, repairs, and maintenance.

WHERE TO NEXT?

There are a number of active campaigns you can support around Australia. It only takes one person to make a difference, you.

Get Involved
“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”

David Attenborough

“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”

John Paul II

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

Gaylord Nelson
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.”

Barbara Ward