After over 200 years of development the landscape of eastern Australia has changed significantly. Fences, roads, dams, industrial and agricultural lands, powerlines, towns and cities dissect the country, causing natural areas to become isolated ‘islands’ from which plants and animals are often unable to move. This has resulted in the fragmentation and degradation of many interconnected ecosystems, and reduced capacity for the landscape to maintain unique native species, cultural heritage, and ecosystem services.
Protected areas, such as national parks, form important ‘core conservation areas’. However, on their own, they are not enough to conserve Australia’s biodiversity. Even the largest protected areas exist as isolated fragments surrounded by lands managed for agriculture, industry or human settlement. In addition, some species, such as koalas, rely on habitats that are not well represented in the public reserve system.
For this reason, the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) uses the approach of connectivity conservation, which recognises the need to protect and restore linkages across the landscape, and to engage diverse communities with conservation of their local area.
Key ways in which GER restores connectivity to the landscape include: