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.