Help protect threatened ecosystems
Over the past four decades Trust for Nature has protected almost 100,000 hectares with Conservation Covenants and reserves. Often taken for granted, these landscapes comprise many complex ecosystems, native plants and wildlife.
No doubt you understand the challenges our state’s picturesque landscapes face with ongoing clearing, climate change and threats from pest animals and weeds. With the continued commitment of supporters like you, Trust for Nature has been protecting these beautiful landscapes of Victoria for future generations.
Grey Mangrove. Photo: Kevin Sparrow
In 2013, Trust for Nature published our Statewide Conservation Plan, which is a scientific framework for preserving our most threatened ecosystems and species on Victoria’s private land. As intended, and with the generosity of our supporters, the Plan has been guiding our work across the state for the last few years and will continue to do so into the future.
Six conservation objectives are detailed in the Plan, with one focused specifically on improving the protection of significant aquatic and coastal ecosystems. While almost half of Victoria’s coastal land is privately owned, only a quarter of this private coastal land contains native vegetation - the remainder has been cleared. Land clearing for urban development continues to be one of the biggest threats to this type of ecosystem, as coastal areas have some of the highest rates of urban development of any private land in the state. Coastal areas are also at high risk from rising sea levels, with significant implications for the very rich estuarine and saltmarsh habitats found around the fringes of many of our bays and inlets. For these to survive into the future, we need to protect the surrounding higher ground to assist with the gradual shift of these coastal habitats inland. The biggest challenge for us with this objective is that only a tiny proportion of this private land is currently protected by Trust for Nature Conservation Covenants or through our own conservation reserves.
Your donation today will help us continue to protect threatened ecosystems into the future, including Victoria’s unique aquatic and coastal areas.
About 200 kilometres east of Melbourne, one such example is a dairy farm in Gippsland that is so much more than just cows and milk production. With over 200 head of cattle, this farm extends from the mainland onto an island, accessible by a causeway. The 168 hectare island, known as Dog Island, is one of the larger freehold islands in the tide-dominated Corner Inlet estuary, on the eastern side of Wilsons Promontory. About a third of the island has been protected with a Conservation Covenant to protect the estuarine wetlands and coastal saltmarsh that fringe the property.
This area is also significant because it is home to the world’s most southerly population of the rare Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina subsp. australasica). Furthermore, the habitat role that these wetlands play for waterbirds, such as the critically endangered Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), and many other species of wildlife has ensured Corner Inlet is included on the ‘wetlands of international importance’ list identified under the Ramsar Convention.
Orange-bellied Parrot. Photo: Chris Tzaros
More recently, mangrove and saltmarsh ecosystems are becoming of greater interest in the climate change conversation, as they are one of the world’s most efficient ecosystems at capturing and storing carbon dioxide (or ‘sequestering’ carbon). Referred to as ‘blue carbon’, it is believed that saltmarshes can be between 10-100 times more effective at sequestering carbon than forests. Dog Island has been put forward as a proposed site for future research into blue carbon by an Australian university.
Another fabulous example of the work the Trust is doing to protect coastal ecosystems is across the other side of the state. Between Port Fairy and Warrnambool lies 22 hectares of saltmarsh vegetation at Kelly’s Swamp. The swamp forms part of the Merri estuary and is nationally significant in terms of its ecological features as it provides vital habitat for rare bird species, such as the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster). With less than 50 birds remaining in the wild, the Orange-bellied Parrot is one of Australia’s most endangered species. Protection of remaining saltmarsh habitat, like that at Kelly’s Swamp, is vital to ensure the survival of this bright and beautiful bird.
Victoria’s Coastal Saltmarsh is so ecologically important to Australia that in 2013 it was included in the Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh Ecological Community and listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act by the Federal Government. Increased protection of these important coastal ecological communities is paramount and a high priority for Trust for Nature; even more so with this recent national listing. Under this listing, these plant communities are now considered nationally threatened, warranting our urgent attention to assist with their protection and ongoing survival.
Your strong belief in our mission to protect Victoria’s remaining natural habitat on private land inspires each and every one of our team working on the ground every day of the year.
I hope you will support Trust for Nature with an online donation as we continue our work in protecting our state’s most vulnerable ecosystems, including precious areas such as Dog Island and Kelly’s Swamp, for many years to come.
Trust for Nature
Remember, your donation is tax-deductible. To claim it in this financial year, please donate by June 30.