Photo © Wildlfie Queensland
On 8 March Hon Tony Burke, Commonwealth Environment Minister announced the release of a draft National Wildlife Corridors plan. Wildlife Queensland has reviewed and commented on this plan.
Recently the Queensland Bligh Government defined and registered the Flinders Karawatha Wildlife Corridor and foreshadowed a Border to Beach Wildlife Corridor if re-elected.
Wildlife Queensland has always recognised the importance of national parks as the cornerstone of species conservation. However national parks alone will not stop the decline in biodiversity. Recent Australian and Queensland Biodiversity Conservation Strategies recognise that business as usual is simply not working and, in spite of ongoing programs, biodiversity is still in decline. It is evident that other approaches need to be explored. The recent focus on wildlife corridors indicates at least other options are being trialled.
Wildlife Queensland acknowledges that scientific views of the effectiveness of wildlife corridors are divided. According to some scientists there is scant evidence that wildlife corridors work in large dominated human landscapes. However many of the studies measure only if animals move through the corridors and not other factors such as if they are occupied in the long term or if they facilitate ongoing genetic diversity in populations.
Large scale wildlife corridors are becoming an active component of natural resource management in Australia. This landscape-scale conservation seeks to manage ecological processes across space, time and jurisdiction and not focus simply on place. Will this approach prove effective and at least arrest the decline in species loss? Time will tell.
Wildlife Queensland has yet to review the draft National Wildlife Corridors Plan in detail but will do so prior to the closing date for submissions 20 April 2012. You can view the draft plan here.
It is Wildlife Queensland’s understanding that this draft is a major plank in fulfilling the Gillard Government commitment to building a network of national wildlife corridors. Its aim is to restore and manage ecological connection and rebuild ecological functions in the Australian landscapes. It is a new collaborative whole of landscape approach to the conservation of biodiversity. That is not to say the National Reserve System is to be entirely ignored but this corridor approach is to complement that project.
The plan is to be based on voluntary cooperation and supplement existing efforts of communities, landholders, governments at all levels and industry.
New legislation is proposed but only as a mechanism for nomination, assessment and listing of national corridors. It is not planned to be a subset of the EPBC Act and rights which landholders have in law would not be subject to change. The focus is to be on social as well as conservation interests. The concept has significant economic and conservation benefits. It is believed that for a relatively small investment there will be a significant conservation outcome. It is to be funded from existing Australian Government programs such as the Biodiversity Fund and Caring for Country. Apparently investment in wildlife corridors by the Commonwealth will focus on listed national wildlife corridors.
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