New Urban Biodiversity Project from Keep Victoria Beautiful
Over the last 4 months, myself and the KVB team have undertaken a scoping study looking at Victoria’s urban biodiversity. Before I launch into the findings, I am sure you will want a small definition of what urban biodiversity means.
Biodiversity is the variety of life and, as you can imagine, it can be studied on many different levels. On a high scale you can view it as all the species on the Earth. On a much smaller scale, you can study biodiversity within a creek ecosystem such as Elder Creek in Melbourne. Biodiversity is incredibly important to our Earth and to humans being able to live on earth. Urban biodiversity are the ecosystems across urban environments.
So what did we find out?
- Our Victorian cities and towns are incredibly important hubs for biodiversity conservation.
- Biodiversity is a key part of Victoria’s identity and is integral to subsistence and cultural activity for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
- Biodiversity helps us to live on earth. For instance wetlands clean water and absorb chemicals and plants provide oxygen for us to breathe.
What is the problem?
We are seeing a huge decline in biodiversity across the world. At home, the Victorian state government says in their 2017 Biodiversity plan that:
“Between one quarter and one third of Victoria’s terrestrial plants, marine, freshwater and terrestrial birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, along with numerous invertebrates and ecological communities, are considered threatened with extinction.” (DELWP 2017)
So what is causing the decline?
Firstly, we know that it is not just one pressure, it is a cumulative effect of a heap of pressures. Some of the pressures include:
Urban growth: Victoria is the most intensively settled and cleared state in Australia. Each year, the state’s remaining areas of native vegetation shrinks by approximately 4000 habitat hectares (DELWP, 2017). This causes habitat loss and degradation.
Climate change: Australia’s climate and its high natural variability fr has always been a major influence on the state of the Australian environment but our climate is changing at a rate unprecedented in the geological record. The impact of climate change in Victoria is that that the structure and function of ecosystems are altering and affecting heritage assets, economic activity and human wellbeing. It also exacerbates the impact of other pressures on urban biodiversity. (Department of Environment and Energy, 2016).
Public’s disconnection with urban biodiversity: Interestingly, our research showed us that people are disconnected from biodiversity in our cities and towns. There is a link between connecting with nature and consequently biodiversity and acting to protect and conserve biodiversity. Being connected to nature is beneficial not just for humans but for society and the environment.
What needs to happen?
There have been more conscious efforts over the recent decades to protect biodiversity, nonetheless, many indigenous plants and native species remain threatened in Victoria. We need to work together to have greater impact. Collaboration between different stakeholders is vital! The government, NGO’S and business cannot do this on their own. Every Victorian needs to connect and act to stop the biodiversity decline.
Want to learn more or work out how you can help?
Victoria State Government, 2017, Protecting Victoria’s Biodiversity – 2036, viewed on 1/3/2017,<https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/51259/Protecting-Victorias-Environment-Biodiversity-2037.pdf>
Australia State of the Environment Report, 2016, Overview, viewed on 4/4/2017, <https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview>
Melbourne City Photograph – Autumn 2017 Photo by Rick Plumridge of Ricochet Graphics.