Renewing linkages in landscapes
A number of large scale linkage projects have been initiated in Australia. These commence with a focus on securing the conservation status of the component lands and progress to actively restoring habitats in cleared areas to improve connectivity.
Features that can increase connectivity include continuous wildlife corridors, 'stepping stones' and buffer zones around existing habitat areas.Lessons and Limitations
- Large scale linkage programs combine conservation and restoration and require very long term commitment, ongoing funding and engagement with communities and other stakeholders.
- All the constraints that apply to individual projects apply to large scale projects, multiplied by the scale and social and ecological complexity of the project.
- Minimum habitat area requirements of individual species need to be considered for optimal reinstatement of linkages in fragmented landscapes.
EXAMPLES OF MAJOR PROGRAMS
(Information on component projects is available on the following major project websites.)
Link, Western Australia
Gondwana Link is a collaborative, large scale program aiming to reconnect 1000km of healthy and resilient country across south-western Australia. It builds on many decades of conservation work, with over 900km of bushland already in place, and includes direct seeding and replanting substantial areas of degraded land. Gondwana Link includes examples of restoration planning and implementation, including the identification of reference ecosystems.
Eastern Ranges Initiative, east coast Australia
The GER draws together over 180 community, industry, government and non-government organisations to promote landscape-wide connectivity along 3,600kms of Australia’s longest chain of mountainous landscapes from Victoria to Queensland.
141, south-eastern Australia
Covering 18 million hectares across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, and incorporating two national biodiversity hotspots, Habitat 141o is restoring connectivity at a landscape scale in the heavily fragmented Australian wheat-sheep zone. The distinctive configuration of wilderness areas spanning a 700km north-south gradient provides one of the best opportunities to reconcile historic over-clearing for agriculture, and assuage the future impacts of climate change, and underpins our long-term restoration vision.
- Victorian Northern Plains Grasslands Protected Area Network, Victoria
As a result of public and private land acquisition and covenanting the area of grasslands conserved and managed within the Protected Area Network in the Victorian Riverine Plains has grown from virtually nothing in the mid-1990s to be now in excess of 10,000ha and is continuing to expand.
- Tasmanian Midlands Restoration Project, Tasmania.
Located in one of Australia’s 15 “Biodiversity Hotspots” the Midlands Restoration Project is a landscape-scale environmental restoration initiative designed to increase connectivity and biodiversity in the Northern Midlands, an area with a long history of agricultural production. The aim is to restore 6,000ha in two wildlife corridors across the Northern Midlands.