Thursday, August 25, 2011

yarra ranges submits to inquiry

Yarra Ranges Council recently submitted to the Federal Inquiry into Australia's Biodiversity in a Changing Climate.

The submission raised a number of different points starting with the community's vision (Vision 2020) for our natural environment. In their vision our community recognises the need to protect and enhance natural assets, ensure development does not occur at the expense of the natural environment, embrace the concept of resource conservation and value ecological sustainability.

We're a very significant shire when it comes to biodiversity. Home to three of Victoria's state emblems, the Leadbeater's Possum, the Helmeted Honeyeater and the Common Heath. Our shire contains 51% of the upper reaches of the Yarra River catchment and 10% of the Dandenong Creek catchment, providing valuable water supplies and ecological services to not only the shire but more broadly to Melbourne too.

Much of the forest in Yarra Ranges is a wet forest ecosystem, found to be the most carbon rich forests in the world. There needs to be a far greater recognition in the role of protecting and improving existing ecosystems in carbon sequestration as a priority over revegetation efforts.

In terms of local impacts on biodiversity from climate change we know Yarra Ranges will experience:
- increased risk of bushfire and more intense fires
- increased spread, prevalence and emergence of environmental and agricultural weeds
- increase in the number of intense storms and storm surges
- increased landslip and waterway erosion
- overall decrease in rainfall and reduced reliability of water sources to maintain ecosystems in waterways
- decrease in soil health
- decrease in biodiversity, in particular rare, vulnerable and threatened plant and animal species and species with specialised habitat requirements
- changes to suitable agricultural crops
- changes to indigenous vegetation.

Climate change will put additional pressure on biodiversity at a time when our ecosystems are already under considerable duress. It's pleasing to see that the federal government is conducting this inquiry and I hope that the outcomes will lead to greater protection and enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems.

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