Outside of major public lands like national parks and state forests, there are patches of remnant vegetation scattered throughout the GER corridor on other types of public land, including Crown Lands and roadsides. Often, this remnant vegetation has been protected as a by-product of past land uses, and its conservation value has only recently begun to be recognised and maintained.
These types of public lands can make particularly important contributions to connectivity. Linear vegetation remnants, such as roadsides and travelling stock routes, can act as wildlife corridors. Other patches of vegetation, such as those found in travelling stock reserves and old public cemeteries and, can be used as ‘stepping stones’ that provide temporary shelter for animals moving across the landscape.
Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves
As early European settlers expanded pastoral activities across Australia, they created droving trails, allowing sheep and cattle to be moved between pastures and to market. Much of this network still exists today as public land in NSW and Queensland, in the form of travelling stock routes and travelling stock reserves (collectively called TSRs in NSW, and Stock Routes in Queensland). Travelling stock routes are roads along which livestock can legally be driven, and usually have wide verges on which cattle can graze, whilst travelling stock reserves are smaller, fenced areas for watering stock or camping overnight. Unlike surrounding lands, TSRs were rarely cleared, which means that they retain vital remnant habitat.
TSRs are an important resource for connectivity conservation within and beyond the GER corridor. The TSR network in NSW and Queensland is extensive (2.6 million hectares in Queensland and more than 740,000 hectares in NSW), and forms many north-south and east-west connections. This network provides links between the Great Eastern Ranges and pastoral land to the west. In addition, individual travelling stock reserves within the GER corridor provide important habitat for threatened species, such as the critically-endangered Golden Sun Moth, which has important populations on TSRs in south-eastern NSW.
Good management of TSRs is important in order to preserve their environmental, cultural and social values, and to prevent the network from being broken up and losing its connectivity values. Currently, the TSR network faces a variety of pressures, such as sale by Governments, exploitation and clearing due to mining and forestry, and degradation through overgrazing and invasive species.
Other Public Lands
There are a variety of other public land types that contain important areas of remnant vegetation. These include linear remnants such as road verges, rail corridors, and easements for infrastructure, such as electricity lines or gas pipelines. The importance of this habitat for connectivity, particularly in heavily cleared rural areas, is increasingly being recognised. The NSW Roadside Environment Committee was established in 1994, to promote best practices in managing these linear reserves across the State. Remnant patches of vegetation are also found on other Crown Lands, such as cemeteries and land belonging to educational institutions.