What is Connectivity Conservation?

Connectivity conservation is a community-led approach to conservation that brings people together to reverse the impacts of habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation by reconnecting our natural world.

Research clearly shows that the conventional approach of prioritising the conservation of isolated patches of habitat in national parks is insufficient by itself to ensure the long-term survival and adaptability of our wildlife and the resilience and integrity of our ecosystems – connectivity (the degree to which landscapes and seascapes allow species to move freely and ecological processes to function unimpeded) is crucial for our survival.

In the past, our natural world was well-connected and boundless. Today, roads, dams, fences, agricultural and industrial lands, towns, and cities have led to significant loss of native vegetation and carved the land into small ‘islands’ of habitat. This prevents animals from being able to move freely in search of food, shelter and breeding partners, or in response to changing conditions, and impedes the functioning of the natural processes that sustain us, such as pollination, reducing flood risk, soil formation and carbon absorption.

Connectivity conservation works with landholders, communities, organisations and government to reverse these challenges by regenerating and reconnecting core habitats, reducing the impacts of key barriers to wildlife movement such as major roads, and tackling significant threats, like feral animals, weeds and unsustainable management practices.

This creates stepping stones of habitat and green corridors that reconnect our landscapes; supporting the long-distance migrations of animals such as shining bronze cuckoos, as well as those with shorter movement needs, like koalas and platypus. Restoring connectivity also helps to maintain biodiversity and enables natural processes to function unimpeded and continue to provide the many services upon which we all depend.

And in the face of climate change, restoring connectivity is more important than ever. Well-connected landscapes and natural systems are more resilient, can adapt more readily to the impacts of a changing climate and enable us to rebound more rapidly after a disaster, such as a bushfire, drought or flood.

The Great Eastern Ranges initiative

In eastern Australia, large landscape (a holistic approach to landscape conservation that focuses on conserving our irreplaceable landscapes and the environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits they provide at scale) connectivity conservation initiative, the Great Eastern Ranges serves to:

  • Support the natural movement needs of wildlife and plants and enable them to move and adapt in response to climate change.
  • Provide integrated natural solutions to our climate, biodiversity and wellbeing challenges through the large-scale protection, reconnection and regeneration of our carbon-rich forests, woodlands and wetlands.
  • Increase the resilience and productivity of our land, wildlife, people and economies by maintaining healthy natural functions and processes.
  • Preserve the rivers, wetlands and lakes that supply three quarters of Australia’s 25.5 million residents, farmers and industries with fresh water.
  • Conserve the scenic, social, cultural and spiritual values of our natural landscapes and people’s connection to country.
Connectivity conservation in practice. Image copyright DSEWPac.

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