Victoria’s biodiversity – have your say

5 May 2016

Written by: Katherine McLeod

Have you ever wanted to have a say in Victoria's biodiversity? Katherine McLeod talks to the public about what they would like to see looked after.

The Victorian Government is changing its approach to biodiversity by formulating a 20 year plan dedicated to protecting Victoria’s environment – and they want your help.

The Department of Enviroment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is currently accepting public submissions as part of a consultation process that will inform the final version of a paper they are drafting that will inform the State Government’s policy platform for years to come.

Focusing on Melbourne’s growth corridors, the proposed approach provides a greater planning certainty to expand the corridors and aims to improve the biodiversity outcomes of Melbourne’s environment.

Biodiversity is the vast variety of all living things. It’s the different animals, plants and organisms and the ecosystems they form.

It’s generally formed at three levels – genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. These three levels form together to create life on Earth.

The existing strategy for the protection of biodiversity in Victoria’s growth corridors sets out all the conservation methods that are required for environmental significance. It is in place to uphold the requirements of the state, including Victoria’s Native Vegetation Management: A Framework for Action.

Erin, a La Trobe student undertaking a masters in Zoology, says she would like the plan to focus on local wetlands and protect the many species that call them home.

“I think that better funds needs to be put into cultivating our local wetlands,” she tells upstart.

“The species that live there have nowhere else to go in urban climates. We need to protect them while we can.”

According to Environmental Justice Australia, at least two thirds of Victoria’s wetlands have been lost, adding up to around 4,000 natural wetlands and 191,000 hectares.

Remaining wetlands are are currently in danger due to lack of water, physical change for development, poor land management, and pollution.

Emma, a biological science student, says that honeybees should be included in the plan, arguing that without them our agricultural industry could be destroyed.

“If honey bees aren’t around to pollinate flowers, then a huge threat to human survival is imminent. As the most important pollinators of fruit and vegetables, more than a third of the world’s crop production is dependant on bees,” she tells upstart.

“They can’t find food due to our heavy use of chemicals in farming and harvesting, which is something that we need to take into consideration before it is too late.”

According to CSIRO, pollination has a major influence on product quality, as many fruits grow larger when they are well pollinated, as opposed to when they are not.

They stated in a 2007 report that “Australia has a wide range of agricultural industries that face damage in the event of declining bee populations.”

The Victorian Greens have been vocal about protecting the state’s bio-diverse landscape. In their plan to save Australia’s native species, they have identified important habitats and increased funding for threatened species and their management. Charting the road to recovery for Australia’s threatened natural species, the Greens have set out a plan to strengthen protection for threatened species across the country.

“Many of Australia’s precious plants and animals are under threat like never before, from climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species and disease, as well as a rapidly expanding resources sector,” their website says.

“We need to protect the iconic Australian species we all know and love, like the koala and put a stop to the extinction crisis threatening over 20% of Australian mammals.”

Samantha Dunn, the Greens spokesperson for Planning, Forests and the Great Forest National Park, believes that sustainability and lessening the risk to human health are what should be focused on.

“I’d like to see a transition out of Native Forest logging into sustainable plantation timber,” she tells upstart.

“Next would be the establishment of the Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands of Victoria to give the states faunal emblem – the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum – a chance of survival.”

She feels that these are the most important steps to take.

“These two actions alone would do much to improve Victoria’s biodiversity, our carbon stores and our water catchments,” she says.

“The Greens are concerned that the loss of Victoria’s biodiversity poses an unacceptable risk to human and ecosystem health, and dramatically reduces our ability to cope with major ecological threats,” she adds.

You can have your say on the future of Victoria’s approach to biodiversity before May 15.


Katherine McleodWebKatherine McLeod is a third year journalism student at La Trobe. You can follow her on twitter here: @kattt_mcleod