Conservation

Conservation and climate change

Trust for Nature is concerned about the impact climate change is having on Victoria’s environment. Trust for Nature is joining with others to address this challenge.

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Sunset at Neds Corner Station
Photo: Shannon Reddaway

Trust for Nature is concerned about the impact climate change is having on Victoria’s environment.

Hotter, drier seasons with associated reductions in rainfall and increases in extreme weather events are increasing the daily pressures on ecosystems and native species in our State.

These changes impact animal and plant populations by reducing the availability of food, suitable habitat and water – all of which have been shown to lead to reduced breeding success, increased mortality, and shifts in distribution, flowering times and altered migratory patterns.

Climate change is also triggering fundamental evolutionary changes in species, including decreases in body size and changes in colour.

According to a 2008 study on the implications of climate change for Australia’s National Reserve System, the species composition of plants in vegetation communities may change by more than 50% by 2070.  Shifts in composition are predicted to occur at a scale of hundreds of kilometres between current and projected distributions of species.

This study also predicts that climate change will worsen habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species and extreme floods and droughts.

What we are doing

Trust for Nature is joining with others to address this challenge.

The Trust stewards more than 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in its reserves and covenanted properties. This is equivalent to removing more than 2.5 million cars from our roads for a year. And, thanks to the ongoing management of this land, and additional landowners choosing to permanently protect their land with a Trust for Nature covenant every year, these carbon stores are continually growing.

With support from the Victorian Government’s Sustainability Fund, the Trust has been reviewing its conservation planning approach in the face of climate change. As an evidence-based conservation organisation, we are focussing on:

  • continuing habitat protection and expansion of the National Reserve System;
  • protecting areas identified as ‘refuges’ including wetlands, waterways, old-growth forests, rainforests and high-quality habitat patches
  • protecting and restoring areas identified as important for improving habitat connectivity
  • protecting and restoring areas identified as being important as existing carbon stocks (for example, old-growth forests and woodlands) or for their potential to capture and store carbon (for example, inland wetlands and mangrove ecosystems)
  • increased management of pest plants and pest animals
  • increased support for our landholders to help mitigate the impacts of climate change at the property scale.

 To inform our approach, we are also exploring new scientific information relating to habitat connectivity, sea-level rises and carbon sequestration in existing and potential protected areas.  We are also examining Catchment Management Authority priority areas for protection and restoration throughout regional Victoria. 

How property owners can respond

While the magnitude of climate change can seem daunting, it is important to recognise and value what can be achieved through local conservation action.

Below are some suggestions of management actions landowners can take on their own properties to help mitigate the impacts of climate change at this local scale and help conserve the habitats, plants and animals living there.

General suggestions

  • Maintain or improve existing habitat so it provides summer food and winter food for native species along with places for shelter and breeding
  • Maintain or improve the quality of the most productive environmental areas of the property (for example, waterways, wetlands, mature forest, southerly or easterly slopes)
  • Improve habitat connectivity on your property and through the local district using best practice guidelines (http://umccc.org.au/files/umcc...)
  • Tackle existing and emerging threats from pest animals, weeds or over-abundant species of native animals and plants
  • Diversify species selection and provenance selection, as recommended by the best available science (http://www.florabank.org.au/de...)
  • Record changes in species’ occurrences, abundances or life-history patterns and submit records to relevant databases such as Atlas of Living Australia, Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, Birdlife Australia Atlas.

Terrestrial habitats

  • Thin of overly dense woodland and forest patches – under permit – to increase growth rates of the remaining trees, reduce competition for groundcover plants and shrubs and increase the volume of fallen wood
  • Add logs, branches and other natural structures to bare ground to reduce runoff and soil erosion
  • Install nest boxes for hollow-using animal species in immature forests
  • Apply selective herbicides to invasive environmental weeds to favour native species
  • Control over-abundant populations of exotic and native herbivores through strategic fencing or other recommended methods to protect significant habitats and important populations of plants from browsing or grazing
  • Consider management options to reduce numbers of Noisy Miners, Bell Miners and Yellow-throated MIners to improve bird diversity and tree health
  • Consider retiring marginal agricultural land from production and restoring it to natural habitat
  • As far as possible ensure protection of fire-sensitive habitats and habitat components from burning.

Wetlands and coastal environments

  • Aim to restore the natural hydrology of your wetlands by, removing  artificial barriers, plugging drains or seeking opportunities to receive environmental water with your Catchment Management Authority
  • Use vegetation or physical barriers to help protect coastlines from storm surge
  • Protect and enhance the buffers and catchments of wetlands and coastal habitats
  • Remove aquatic pest animal and plant species.

Creeklines

  • Maintain or enhance tree and shrub cover adjacent to waterways to provide habitat and to help shade the water and reduce water temperatures
  • Try to maintain good groundcover to reduce erosion and sedimentation
  • Seek to expand the extent of riparian habitats where possible to maximise their natural biodiversity value as productive, generally well connected, diverse ecosystems
  • Seek funding support for off-creek watering systems to reduce stock impacts on waterways.

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