What is connectivity conservation?

Connectivity conservation is a people-driven approach to conservation that recognises that the long-term health and resilience of our landscapes, natural processes, wildlife and communities depend on their forming part of a large, interconnected network.

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 as they need to 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.

Research has shown that the conventional approach of prioritising the conservation of isolated pockets of habitat is insufficient on its own to ensure the long-term survival and adaptability of 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.

Connectivity conservation works with landholders and communities to reverse the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation by planting vegetation, reducing barriers to movement such as building wildlife crossings over major roads, and tackling key threats, like feral animals and weeds.

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 properly and continue to provide the many services that sustain us, such as pollination, reducing flood risk, soil formation and carbon absorption.

And in the face of climate change, restoring connectivity is more important than ever. Well-connected landscapes and natural systems are more resilient and 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.

In eastern Australia, large landscape connectivity conservation initiative, the Great Eastern Ranges serves to:

  • Facilitate the natural movement needs of wildlife and plants and enable them to move and adapt in response to climate change.
  • Provide integrated natural climate-biodiversity solutions 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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