Caloundra, Australia Biodiversity Strategy 2006

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Caloundra, Australia

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2006

Source File: http://www.caloundra.qld.gov.au/website/cityEnvironment/files/Biodiversity_Strategy_2006-final.pdf

Text:

Shown below is only the Executive Summary of this 3.76mb document.

Biodiversity is short for “biological diversity” and refers to the variety of all life forms - the different plants, animals, fungi, seaweed and all micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems they form.

Its richness is expressed in the unique and complex ecological communities found in the air, on land, in the soil, and in fresh water, estuaries and the ocean.

Australia is one of twelve megadiverse countries, which together contain about 75% of the Earths total biodiversity (Australian Museum, 2005). Queensland is Australia's leading state for biodiversity, with 47% of the nation's plants and 66% of all native bird, mammal, frog and reptile species represented in the state (EPA, 2004).

Caloundra City has many different landscapes and seascapes:

  • the broad rural valleys of the Mary and Stanley Rivers and lower Mooloolah River catchment
  • tall forests of the upper Stanley River catchment
  • the rainforests and eucalypt forests of the Conondale and Blackall Ranges
  • floodplains of the Mooloolah River
  • outcrops of the Glass House Mountains
  • heathlands
  • melaleuca forests and other natural wetlands near the coast
  • dunes and rocky headlands of Caloundra's eastern beaches
  • mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass communities of the Pumicestone Passage.

As a result of this diverse range of geographic, geological and topographic features, Caloundra City is becoming increasingly renowned as a significant biodiversity centre of species richness.

The 1102 square kilometres (110,200 ha) of Caloundra City is host to several thousand species of plants and a recorded 623 native vertebrate species and likely home to a high proportion of 168 butterfly species (Sands, 1999) found on the Sunshine Coast. There have been over 300 bird species recorded (WPSQ, 1998), which represents around one third of Australia's bird species. The Pumicestone Passage is a wetland of international importance in accordance with the Ramsar Convention 1971 and offers a protected haven for threatened species such as migratory shorebirds, dugong, marine turtles and dolphins.

Protecting this biodiversity is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, biodiversity is the basis for our economy, supporting industries such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism. Genetic diversity is also a rich and relatively untapped resource for present and future benefits in agriculture, medicine and horticulture.

Secondly, healthy ecosystems provide us with services such as air and water purification. Forests are important "sinks" for carbon dioxide; wetlands absorb and recycle nutrients; coastal dunes, salt marshes and mangroves buffer the coastline against ocean storms; bees, butterflies, beetles and bats pollinate plants and crops; and microbes breakdown human and other wastes.

Thirdly, maintaining healthy ecosystems improves the chances of recovery of our plants, animals and landscapes from unpredictable natural occurrences such as fire, flood, cyclones and the potential effects of climate change.

Fourthly, the aesthetic value of our natural open space areas can contribute to the emotional and spiritual well-being of a highly urbanised population and provide a sense of place. Biodiversity and the natural beauty of our landscapes underpins our tourism industry. The unique environment is an intrinsic part of our local and national identity and the land is directly associated with the spiritual attachment and cultural knowledge of Aboriginal people.

And last but not least, all life has intrinsic value _ and the fundamental right to exist independent of their current or prospective usefulness to humans.

Although more is known now by western science about the importance of biodiversity than ever before, the impact of human activities is bringing environmental change at a speed beyond the adaptive ability of most species and ecosystems. The list of threatened species and communities is growing rapidly.

One of the main threats facing our native bushland is broad scale and incremental clearing. Land clearing arises from the economic, resource and lifestyle demands of an increasing population.

In the SEQ Bioregion (extending from Gladstone to the NSW border and west to Toowoomba), 31% of listed regional ecosystems are regarded as either “endangered” (cleared to <10% of pre-European extent) or “of concern” (cleared to 10-30% of pre-European extent) (EPA, 1999). Within the SEQ Bioregion is the SEQ region which only extends north to Noosa. In the SEQ region, 84% of all lowland vegetation was cleared by 1993 primarily for the purpose of urban expansion and intensive agricultural activities (EPA, 1999).

Fragmentation of bushland is also a major threat to biodiversity. It is therefore necessary to retain and enhance existing corridors between remnant natural areas to avoid isolating populations of flora and fauna that could lead to a reduction in breeding populations and undermine genetic diversity. Other factors which may slowly undermine and threaten the biodiversity of Caloundra City, include: introduced plants and animals, altered fire regimes, infrastructure corridors (impact on movement of fauna), inappropriate land management practices, altered hydrological regimes and water quality, pollution, salinity and, to a lesser extent, tourism.

Of most concern now and in the future, is the threat of human-induced climate change to biodiversity. Apart from sea level rise and increased frequency of extreme weather events, one of the likely effects of predicted climate change is that the climatic envelope for the habitats of many species will move toward the poles or upward in elevation from their current locations. The speed at which climate changes might occur could make it extremely difficult for many species to evolve and adapt to new conditions, in part because the landscapes that would allow them to move have already been fragmented by habitat destruction. Conservation strategies must no longer be based on assumptions that plant and animal distributions are 'frozen' in place (Conservation International). This makes the protection and rehabilitation of wildlife corridors, riparian buffers and other environmental links even more critical.

The development and implementation of this Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is based on the following broad principles:

  • to secure a reserve system that adequately represents, connects and sustains each broad landscape type
  • conserve biodiversity in-situ
  • minimise landscape fragmentation
  • manage threatening processes
  • foster on-going-partnerships with the wider community
  • research and monitor impacts and trends on biodiversity over time.

The following actions by Council are of primary importance in order to promote and conserve the City's biodiversity:

  • Amend Caloundra City Plan 2004 to further improve biodiversity conservation mechanisms, including the development of a policy to negotiate environmental offsets (such as compensatory habitat) with developers, to achieve "No Net Loss or a Net Gain".
  • Progress the implementation of Local Law No. 14 (Clearing of Vegetation) to minimise the impacts of vegetation clearing throughout Caloundra City.
  • Expand the range of biodiversity conservation "tools" to secure, protect and manage environmentally significant areas within Caloundra City. "Tools" include mechanisms such as revolving funds, land acquisition, conservation covenants, voluntary conservation programs, Land for Wildlife, facilitated purchase by not-for-profit environmental organisations, obtaining federal and state funding, joint acquisition ventures etc.
  • Develop and implement a rehabilitation strategy that targets key priority areas that expand on existing protected areas, specific regional ecosystems that are under-protected, to link isolated remnants and enhance and link environmental corridors.
  • Review the City's Open Space Network Areas with a view to rationalising the reserve base and subsequent management obligations. This may include revolving fund mechanisms, where financial gains are reinvested in other environmental protection initiatives or securement of other environmentally significant land.
  • Given that the majority of bushland areas in Caloundra City are under private ownership (approximately 49%), provide more financial, in-kind support and other incentives to landowners to protect and enhance important ecological values on private property. Efforts to provide habitat for wildlife outside of a formal system of reserves will prove vital in the survival of threatened species.
  • Acknowledge and strengthen partnerships and support to catchment care, landcare, nature conservation, natural resource management and other environmental groups and volunteers in the role they play in protecting the biodiversity values of Caloundra City's parks, bushland and dunal reserves and waterways and estuaries.
  • Adequately train and resource Caloundra City Council's operational staff in the care and maintenance of the City's natural areas and waterways.
  • Investigate ways to more effectively provide financial, in-kind support, motivational and other incentives to maintain and enhance community participation.
  • More formally promote collaborative research partnerships, so that biodiversity conservation strategies and actions continue to be based on best scientific information.
  • Continue to promote and establish a biodiversity-aware community, including educating the community on the importance of ecosystem services. It is also important that Caloundra City Council record and educate the wider community of the City's historical achievements in protecting the City's biodiversity values. This knowledge should not be lost over time and intergenerationally.
  • Research and monitor impacts and trends on biodiversity over time, report to the wider community and adopt management practices as required.

In order to convey the core aims of the Strategy, various documents have been prepared to target specific audiences. The Biodiversity Background Paper provides a more technical briefing for the scientific community, whilst the Biodiversity Strategy has been designed to convey general information to the wider community.

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