The wildlife, ecosystems and landscapes of eastern Australia face a host of escalating threats, including increasing loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat; the impacts of feral animal and weeds; a rapidly expanding population and climate change. GER is one of the only conservation initiatives large enough to respond to these significant challenges at the scale needed to make a real impact.
The landscapes of eastern Australia have changed dramatically over the last two hundred years. In the past, habitats and ecosystems were intact and well connected. Today, roads, dams, fences, agricultural and industrial lands, towns, and cities have led to significant loss of native vegetation, serving to carve up the land into small ‘islands’ of habitat. This blocks the movement of animals, reduces the amount of habitat available to them, and interrupts the flow of the vital services provided by a healthy environment, such as carbon storage, clean water, pollination and the formation of healthy soils.
The multiple and escalating threats that impact the wildlife, habitats and ecosystems of eastern Australia have also resulted in the rapid decline of biodiversity, putting us on the path to an extinction crisis. This loss of biodiversity is having a dramatic ripple effect, resulting in less healthy, less resilient landscapes to the detriment of people and nature. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are already compounding threats and introducing significant new challenges that need to be managed, such as more frequent and intense fires, and reduced rainfall.
By protecting, connecting and restoring habitats and ecosystems at the continental scale, the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative provides a comprehensive natural solution to many of the greatest environmental challenges we face.
GER provides the bold vision and coordination that brings people together in ways that contribute to conservation outcomes across public and private land to create impact at the whole-of-landscape, population and ecosystem level. By building long-term, inclusive partnerships with organisations and community groups, we provide a platform for driving greater regional coordination at the local level whilst creating corridors of effort across multiple landscapes.
Research has shown that the conventional approach of prioritising the conservation of isolated pockets of habitat while necessary is insufficient to ensure the long-term survival of species and the resilience of our ecosystems. By creating buffers, stepping stones and corridors of habitat to reconnect eastern Australia whilst managing key threats, we can stem the loss of native animals, aid the movement of wildlife, and maintain the health of the environmental services upon which we all rely.
In the future, these natural refuges will become even more critical for enabling species to move and adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Whilst protecting, expanding and restoring eastern Australia’s carbon-rich forests, woodlands and wetlands provide an integrated natural solution to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
By coordinating and mobilising resources, research, capacity building and national leadership, GER helps to secure a healthier future for our communities, economies, landscapes and wildlife.