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Biodiversity

Rainforest.jpg

Biodiversity or ‘biological diversity’ is the collective term for genes, species and ecosystems.

 

East Gippsland has high species and ecosystem biodiversity.  Did you know?  That 90 of Victoria’s 300 Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) occur in our Shire. 

 

Although 80 per cent of East Gippsland’s original native vegetation remains,  there are a large number of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species. Rarer EVCs (such as rainforests that are unique to East Gippsland) and threatened EVCs in agricultural areas need special protection, management and restoration. 

 

Threats to biodiversity in the region include invasive plant and animal species, climate change, altered fire regimes, extreme natural events, urban development, recreation, habitat loss and fragmentation, and pollution.  Limited resources available for effective management and compliance limit our ability to protect our biodiversity.

Biodiversity Links

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI)

Parks Victoria

Trust for Nature (for conservation covenants on private property)  

Biodiversity Link (BLINK)– a Gippsland website, with links to the Conservation Management Networks 

Land for Wildlife (search for Land for Wildlife on the Department of Sustainability Website)

East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority

 

 

Animals (Fauna)

East Gippsland fauna consists of unique native animals including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects and other invertebrates.  Many of our native animals are not found anywhere outside Australia, due to our continent's long geographic isolation.  The area is biogeographically important at the continental scale too. East Gippsland overlaps southern cool temperate with eastern warm temperate zones, resulting in many species of animals and plants absent from or rare in the rest of Victoria.

 

Did you know?  11 mammal, 45 bird and three reptile species in East Gippsland are listed as threatened. Some examples include:

 

Critically Endangered Species:

- Southern Barred Frog

- Smoky Mouse

- Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby

- Regent Honeyeater

- Intermediate Egret

- Grey-tailed Tattler

- Painted Snipe

 

Endangered Species:

- Golden Sun Moth

- Growling Grass Frog

- Diamond Python

- King Quail

- Long-footed Potoroo

- Long-nosed Potoroo

- Eastern Bristlebird

- Ground Parrot

- Masked Owl

- Barking Owl

- Fairy Tern

- Eastern Wallaroo

- Swift Parrot

- Spot-tailed Quoll

 

Vulnerable Species:

- Grey-headed Flying Fox

- Brush-tailed Phascogale

- Diamond Firetail

- Speckled Warbler

- Greater Sand Plover

- Lesser Sand Plover

- Hooded Plover

- Little Tern

- Glossy Black-Cockatoo  

- Sooty Owl

- Powerful Owl

- Black Falcon

- Square-tailed Kite

 

Fauna Links

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI)

Earth Watch Australia

CSIRO Insect Collection

 

Plants and Vegetation (flora)

East Gippsland plants are very significant at the continental scale, due to the area overlapping between southern cool temperate and eastern warm temperate zones.  There are many species of plants and animals which are absent from, or rare in, the rest of Victoria.

East Gippsland is highly valued because of its vast expanses of wilderness and virtually pristine ecosystems. “The continuity of native vegetation over a very extensive area makes East Gippsland one of the great reservoirs of biodiversity in Australia; there are no other regions on mainland Australia where native vegetation is continuous from alpine environments to the coast.” (Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy 1997).  The vegetation on our road reserves and on our farms and properties is also extremely valuable, and forms important habitat links.

About 90 of Victoria’s 300 Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) occur within East Gippsland, and much of far-east Gippsland has been identified as a “flagship” area to be maintained in the State governments Securing Our Natural Future – A white paper for land and biodiversity at a time of climate change.  Find out more about protecting our native vegetation.

 

Flora Links

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI)

The Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne website has more information on native plants.

 

Flora References

“Native trees and shrubs of south-eastern Australia.”  Leon Costermans.  Publisher Rigby, 1983, revised edition 2011.

“Field guide to the eucalypts of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1.”  MIH Brooker, Bloomings Books, 1999.

“Forest Trees of Australia.” DJ Boland et al. CSIRO publishing, edition 5, 2006.

“Rainforest Restoration Manual for South-Eastern Australia.” Bill Peel.  CSIRO publishing, 2010.

“Wildflowers of Victoria and adjoining areas.” Margaret G. Corrick, Bruce Alexander Fuhrer. Publisher Bloomings Books, 2001.

Manual: “East Gippsland Revegetation UTE Guide.”  Landcare East Gippsland Region. Second edition 2010.

Manual: “Indigenous Flora Species Selection Guide for Bairnsdale and Surrounds.”  Greening Australia, South East Victoria region.

 

 

Fungi

Australia is estimated to have between 160,000 to 250,000 fungal species, of which less than five per cent have been described.Fungi Errinundra.jpg

Fungi are extremely important in ecosystem function and the maintenance of biodiversity at the global level.  Fungi are everywhere: in and on plants, animals, soil, air, lakes, rivers and oceans.  They are the most diverse group of organisms, apart from insects.

Fungi break down organic matter so that carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus are released into the soil and atmosphere.  Many plant roots have associations with fungi, which help them access nutrients, making them very important for agriculture, forestry and biodiversity.  They also:

  • Underpin much of our agriculture, horticulture and forestry
  • Are responsible for the majority of plant diseases and several diseases of animals/humans
  • Are used in industrial fermentation processes
  • Are used in the commercial production of many biochemicals (such as citric acid)
  • Are cultured commercially to provide food (such as bread, wine and cheese and as a direct food source e.g. mushrooms)
  • Are used in bioremediation
  • Fungi can also have detrimental impacts such as causing significant crop losses in agriculture, and large-scale die-back in our Eucalypts (Phytophthora cinnamomi or cinnamon fungus)

Fungi Links

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts

Department of Environment and Primary Industrie (DEPI) (search for fungi)

 

 

What can you do?

Sugarglider.jpgCouncil has developed a Sustainable Gardening in Gippsland booklet, which contains information on how to encourage local biodiversity in your garden. If you are unable to download this booklet, contact Council for a printed copy.

 

Why Should I Bother?

“How we garden makes a big difference to the health of our local environment. Water conservation, creating wildlife habitat and reducing nutrient pollution is just the beginning...we can also grow our own food, switch to organics and tackle the spread of environmental weeds,” (Josh Byrne, Sustainable Gardening Australia patron.)

Options for sustainable gardening include native plant selection (to increase local biodiversity), mulching (to reduce water use and spread of weeds), composting food scraps (to give your plants food and reduce your garbage amount), growing your own fruit and vegetables (to reduce 'food miles' and carbon emissions associated with transporting food) and installing a rainwater tank. There are rebates available.

 

Garden Links

Advance TAFE (search for Organic Short Courses)  

Sustainable Gardening Australia (answers questions about mulching, composting, worm farms, pests, what to plant, etc)

Information about rainwater tanks  

Green Plumbers

Build a raingarden and help clean up stormwater before it reaches your local waterway.  Raingardens can be adapted to suit most areas, and they look great too!  Learn more about raingardens and find out how to create your own.

 

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