Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words “biological” and “diversity”. It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live across our land, rivers, coast and ocean. It includes the diversity of their genetic information, the habitats and ecosystems within which they live, and their connections with other life forms and the natural world.
Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is Victoria’s 20-year plan for the future of Victoria’s biodiversity. The Biodiversity 2037 Implementation Cycle reflects the key implementation stages within and across this 20-year timeframe. These are:
- The strategy itself (Biodiversity 2037) and its review after 20 years
- The enabling environment and planning process, including work that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning does to provide tools and systems, regulations and standards, access to land; collaborative planning and so on
- Everyone undertaking actions that contribute to the targets of Biodiversity 2037 – this includes all the contributions of individuals, community groups, Traditional Owners, non-government organisations and government agencies
- Monitoring, evaluating, reporting and improving how we do things. This embeds continuous improvement into planning and action.
Biodiversity conservation can include various approaches, including:
- Continuing to protect the best of our remaining biodiversity by directly managing key threats such as further loss of habitat, weeds and pest animals and inappropriate regimes (including fire, water and resource utilisation).
- Enhancing biodiversity by directly managing native species though actions such as:
- Increasing habitat quality and extent, creating additional habitat areas and connections.
- Reinforcing existing populations by increasing the amount of genetic diversity in a population and giving it greater ability to adapt, or “climate resilience”, through artificial introduction of new genetic material to increase fitness, fertility and reproduction. Efforts to save the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum are an example of this approach.
- Translocating species, such as the Guthega Skink, to previously unoccupied habitat more suited to climate change.
- Managing the population levels of native species to create a more appropriate ecological balance, such as through the reintroduction of apex predators.
- Introducing genetic variants or new species from other suitable areas that can continue to play important ecological roles under climate change. An example of this would be fire-hardy replacements for Alpine Ash in wet forests.
- Rescuing critically endangered populations as an emergency response to catastrophic events such as major bushfires or floods.
- Maintaining populations of sensitive species in intensively controlled natural settings, such as small ground-dwelling mammals in the Mt Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre, near Geelong.
- Maintaining individuals, seeds or tissues in intensively controlled settings such as zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums.
- Identifying where native or even non-native species are recolonising previously disturbed sites, or are substantially established in existing remnants and can provide suitable habitat for species of conservation importance.
- Promoting benefits for biodiversity that may be delivered in human-dominated and production settings – for example, by using biodiversity-friendly soil conservation practices, undertaking carbon sequestration with native mixed-species plantings, or stocking waterways with native fish for recreational fishing.
The biodiversity of the region faces challenges associated with addressing and reversing continued land clearing, changing land use and climate change stresses.
Biodiversity response planning describes the collective cross-tenure biodiversity vision for an area of land or waters, and the five-yearly pledges (i.e. contributors’ statements of intent) towards the statewide targets.
A healthy natural environment provides vital life-sustaining services for humans, and underpins many of the productive activities that generate value for the Corangamite community. The region’s diverse and unique mix of plants, animals, soils, seas and waterways function together as ecosystems, which in turn produce some of humans’ most basic needs – provisions such as clean air and water, productive soils, natural pest control, pollination, flood mitigation and carbon sequestration. Ecosystems also provide us with food, raw materials for production (such as timber, pastures and fertilizers), genetic resources and pharmaceuticals, while contributing to waste decomposition and detoxification. The term ‘natural capital’ is often used to describe the resources provided by nature – minerals, soil, water, ecosystem services, and all living things from which we derive material or financial value. Biodiverse ecosystems are the core component of natural capital.