Let’s work together to protect coastal biodiversity

The United Nations International Day for Biological Diversity this Saturday, 22 May, aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues across the globe.

On a more local level, GORCC, local coastal volunteer groups and many others have for some time been working hard to raise awareness of the need for everyone to do their bit to protect and care for our coast’s precious biodiversity.

The coastal environment along the Great Ocean Road includes sandy beaches, dune systems, shore platforms, reefs, estuaries and lowland forests – all of which provide important habitat for many indigenous flora and fauna species.

While much of the coastal vegetation is in excellent condition, ongoing degradation is severely compromising and destroying biodiversity values. Here are 10 major threats to coastal biodiversity.

  • Environmental weeds – several native species are outside their natural range, which is causing damage to our indigenous species. Coast Tea Tree and Coast Wattle are the two main offenders.
  • Other weeds – Pittosporum, Mirror Bush, Agapanthus, African Boneseed, Sweet Hakea, Cotoneaster, Bridal Creeper, African Boxthorn, Cape Ivy and Myrtle-leaf Milkwort. Need we go on? Most of these are common in residential gardens along the coast. Time to replace them with more appropriate indigenous species.
  • Litter – brings nutrients, which encourages weed species, and is harmful to wildlife.
  • Erosion – damages native vegetation and encourages weeds species to colonise.
  • Pest animals – rabbits, foxes, feral cats, noisy miner birds and the like.
  • Access – creation of informal tracks, clearance of vegetation, damage to vegetation, soil disturbance, access to sensitive areas.
  • Climate change – some species will adapt better than others to climate change. Indigenous species may cope worse than pest plants and animals.
  • Fire – some of our landscapes need cool, safe burns to encourage regeneration of indigenous species and remove weed species (which are often fire intolerant). Bushfires, on the other hand, burn fast and hot, which threatens biodiversity.
  • Development – development on or near the coast often involves degradation or removal of native vegetation. Whilst efforts are made to protect, rehabilitate and regenerate areas, the cumulative impacts of development are significant.
  • Dog poo – nutrient-rich dog poo washes off walking tracks into sensitive bushland areas where indigenous species are intolerant to the high nutrient levels.

You can find out more about these and other threats, and the work we are doing with local volunteers and others to protect coastal biodiversity, by downloading our latest webclip Protecting the Great Ocean Road Coast’s biodiversity. Tell us what you think by posting a comment on this blog.

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