Addressing biodiversity decline at home

30 11 2008

© CJA Bradshaw

© CJA Bradshaw

I was recently invited to sit on a panel organised by the Conservation Council of South Australia (CCSA) to discuss issues of marine and coastal conservation under a rapidly changing climate. The results of that will be released soon (I’ll blog about that later), but in the interim, I want to highlight to readers of how the CCSA is setting up the challenge to local governments to implement positive steps forward for the conservation of biodiversity in South Australia. I’m reproducing the executive summary of their Summit Report on Biodiversity in a Changing Climate (download full report here). It’s a good example of how we can all (industry, government, academia) work together to promote our own well-being.

…South Australia’s biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate. It has been suggested by scientists that it will take many millions of years for biodiversity to recover from the impacts of humans over the last 200 years. In South Australia the key threat to biodiversity is land clearance; clearance of remnant native vegetation and subsequent fragmentation of habitat for native fauna species. Other key threats to biodiversity in South Australia include:

  • Habitat fragmentation from development
  • Competition from introduced flora
  • Predation by introduced animals
  • Direct competition for food, shelter and resources from introduced fauna
  • Introduced diseases
  • Collection of firewood from remnant vegetation
  • Altered fire regimes
  • Inappropriate grazing/overgrazing
  • Inappropriate management activities
  • Water extraction/pollution
  • Climate change – including increasing oceanic temperatures and acidification

Much of South Australia’s economy is based on the use of biological resources and the need to maintain ecosystem services. This includes activities such as tourism and recreation, nature conservation, pastoralism, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry which all benefit from healthy ecosystems.

Our primary production systems require biodiversity for pest control/management, soil conservation, enhanced productivity and stabilisation, pollination, salinity amelioration, and water purification.

To address and reverse current biodiversity trends our society must recognise, understand and value biodiversity. Land managers, indigenous communities, local industries, government and the broader community may value biodiversity in different ways, however conservation and effective management of biodiversity is essential to ensure the continuation of these values for future generations. Biodiversity values may include:

  • Production value for the provision of food, medicines, clothing and building materials consumed by society
  • Ecosystem services for the maintenance of ecosystem services (natural storing and cycling of nutrients, stabilising soil formation, protection of water resources and breakdown of pollution), and maintenance of biodiversity
  • Socio-economic value for recreation, research, education and monitoring, and cultural values
  • Future value to maintain the capacity to identify future direct or indirect utilitarian value

The South Australian government has recognised the significance of biodiversity through integrated approaches such as the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity, a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments. This strategy supports other intergovernmental agreements, such as the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, the National Greenhouse Strategy, the National Forest Policy Statement, the Decade of Landcare Plan, the Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Environment, the Natural Heritage Trust Partnership Agreements and the National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia’s Native Vegetation.

The South Australian government has also implemented its own biodiversity focused strategies including No Species Loss, NatureLinks, Tackling Climate Change, and the State Strategic Plan. Regional biodiversity plans are being facilitated to assist in the management and rehabilitation of natural habitats throughout regions of the state.

However, despite the government’s recognition of biodiversity as a serious issue, South Australia’s biodiversity continues to decline at an alarming rate. Actions for conservation, management and awareness raising must be backed by political will and be targeted and supported financially.

Investing in biodiversity is essential to maintaining ecosystems services and in turn to provide dividends to human health and wellbeing. Policies and regulations must ensure all stakeholders are accountable for their environmental footprint and role in implementing change for the future protection of our state’s biodiversity. The aim of this report is to provide policy recommendations to increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in South Australia’s changing climate…

to view the Report’s recommendations, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

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