Vegetation and Biodiversity
Key issues and goals as we work together, to manage risk, maintain or improve vegetation and biodiversity.
Three types of action that could be applied to habitats for conservation:
- maintain the existing condition of habitats by removing and controlling threatening processes. Generally much easier to avoid the effects of degradation than it is to reverse them,
- improve the condition of habitats by reducing or removing threatening processes. More active management needed to initiate a reversal of condition (e.g. removal of exotic species, reintroduction of native species) in highly modified habitats,
- reconstruct habitats where their total extent has been reduced below viable size using replanting and reintroduction techniques. Difficult and expensive, it is a last-resort action that is most relevant to fragmented and landscapes. Restoration will not come close to restoring habitats to their unmodified state, reinforcing the wisdom of maintaining existing ecosystems as a priority (Cale 2010).
General considerations for preparing for change with respect to resilience include:
- maintaining conservation areas – ensuring the full range of ecosystems and habitats are comprehensively and adequately represented within a network of conservation areas. Reducing threatening processes – multiple stressors to a system will reduce its ability to respond and adapt to climate change. Threatening processes will need to be addressed both within conservation areas and in areas adjacent to these areas (i.e. buffer areas),
- enhancing habitat quality including logs, scrub cover, strategic regrowth patches forming connectivity in the landscape and strategic fire management,
- protecting refugia – identifying and fully protecting patches or habitats that demonstrate resistance to climate disturbance and that can serve as refugia while other areas recover. Such refugia also can provide sources (e.g. propagules, individuals) to facilitate the recovery of other areas,
- maintaining connectivity – linkages between different areas are important at a range of temporal and spatial scales for the functioning of species (i.e. breeding, feeding, and shelter) and continuity of ecological processes (e.g. nutrient flow, spread of fire). Maximising connectivity in a particular landscape ensures biota are able to recolonise areas following disturbance, and are able to use the full range of habitats necessary for their life history.
The Shifting Ecosystem Surfaces modelling work (www.terranova.org.au) undertaken as part of the Stream 2 Central Slopes project compares conditions in the future under the projected climate changes for the region with current conditions to generate a model that will identify areas that are subject to changing flora and fauna populations. It provides information on areas that should be protected now, those that will become important for transition and those that will be important in the future (Drielsma 2014). In general terms most classifications display a trend towards south eastern movement and/or a tendency to move to higher altitudes where suitable transition zones exist.
Vegetation and biodiversity key issues
In addition to these items, please also refer to the Aboriginal and Traditional Owners’ Interests and Cultural Assets section, for details about the strategies and desired outcomes within the QMDC Regional Caring for Country Plan, of relevance to Vegetation and Biodiversity.