Green corridors of conservation planned

By Victoria Laurie 24 September 2010
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The Government will spend $10m to create huge tracks of linked land for animals to migrate between habitats.

GREEN CORRIDORS WILL BE created around Australia in a $10 million initiative to link up national parks and reserves with well-managed private land.

Driven by a belief that large tracks of land is better for conservation than isolated ‘islands’ of fauna and flora, the Federal government’s National Green Corridors Plan will create critical land linkages for migrating.

“Together we need to be thinking on a continental scale, because that is the scale of the challenges being faced. We need to coordinate our investment and our efforts at the national scale to build resilience into our landscapes so they can survive the rigours of the future,” Prime Minister Gillard announced in a statement.

Land care groups have cautiously welcomed the switch to a continent-wide approach to conserving biodiversity. They say corridors of remnant bush are preferable to current conservation approaches that maroon fauna and flora in patchy, unconnected reserves that often fail to guarantee their survival. They also argue that climate change may see some native animals and plants needing to move widely across the landscape.

Community groups lead the way

Great Eastern Ranges Initiative  View Large Map

The Green Corridors Plan, which was floated by the Gillard government during the Federal election campaign, seeks to include the nearly two-thirds of the Australian land mass that is pastoral or agricultural land. It will encourage farmers to conserve native habitat on their farms, while allowing them to earn income by growing and cutting native trees for forestry or natural oils extraction, or sustainably harvesting kangaroos for meat and skins. Farmers will be offered incentives such as stewardship payments, capital grants or support from volunteer conservation organisations.

But some private sector groups say they have been successfully linking up bushland remnants for years, while governments have failed. In southwest Western Australia, the not-for-profit agency Gondwana Link has been buying up former farmland around neighbouring bush and national parks, in a bid to create a green corridor more than 1000 km long. 

“The Federal government is starting to get it, but they shouldn’t kid themselves that this Green Corridors plan is more than a token effort,” says Keith Bradby, director of Gondwana Link. “It’s insulting because it fails to recognise the substantial work that’s been done, and seems to be about the Commonwealth getting kudos when leadership has been there for a decade or more.”

The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) is another ambitious wildlife corridor plan, running 2800 km from the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland down to the Victorian Alps. NSW Department of Environment land manager Ian Pulsford, a driving force behind the concept, says the Federal government plan appears to have been inspired from a Linking Landscapes summit held last year by non-government groups.

“Our chorus has been heard, which is good, but it’s a tiny step in the right direction,” says Ian. “Each corridor group could swallow that $10 million in one go, so let’s have another zero or two added to the amount.” 

See issue 100 of the Australian Geographic journal – out now – for our in-depth feature on the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative.

© Australian Geographic, unless otherwise indicated. This material may be used, reproduced, published and adapted free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes.

Great Eastern Ranges Iniative
Gondwana Link