Threatened species are found everywhere: national parks, remote islands, Australia’s arid interior to name just a few areas. But what’s often overlooked
is that at least 376 EPBC-listed threatened species, including around 26 of the 70 species prioritised for recovery under the Threatened Species strategy
have some part of their distribution in at least one Australian city or town. For at least 30 threatened species, like the Canberra Spider Orchid,
urban areas are the only place they are found.
If we are to have any success at securing their futures, we need to come up with effective strategies for their conservation in our urban spaces. Which is why the TSR Hub in conjunction with the NESP Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, has launched the ‘Threatened Species in Cities’ project. Research fellow Kylie Soanes, who is leading the work, explains what they hope to achieve.
In urban areas Koalas are threatened by cars, dogs, disease and loss of habitat. Image: Liana Joseph
Urban living can be pretty risky for native plants and animals. The mean streets of the city can be noisy and bright, full of vehicles that can run over you, pets that want to eat you and introduced species trying to crowd you out.
And yet, you can still find native threatened species hanging on (and sometimes doing quite well) in urban environments. On a typical urban safari, you might spy fantastically-coloured frogs, cheeky marsupials, ornate orchids, diminutive dragons and majestic eucalypts. Some of these urban dwellers are tough. Some of them are just lucky. Some no longer occur anywhere else.
Part of my job is to find ways that we can improve their chances of sticking around. This means better understanding the range of threats at play, and identifying the unique opportunities that cities and towns could provide our very special natives.
Growling grass frogs are under threat from the loss of wetlands. Image: Bill Wallace
On the other hand, let’s not pretend that we always roll out the welcome mat when native species turn up in our backyards. If we think they seem dangerous, damaging or just generally annoying, things can turn from ‘friend’ to ‘foe’ very quickly. So another aspect of my work involves managing these conflicts to get good outcomes for native species and people.
What we’re really trying to do is highlight the opportunities for conservation within urban environments, showing people that very cool native species (including threatened species) occur on their doorstep, and finding practical ways to help them survive.
There is value in it for humans too. Wildlife and nature within our cities and suburbs sustains and nurtures us. Places like Kings Park in Perth are highly valued by people, and for many the experience is even richer when native wildlife are part of the experience.
So, watch this (urban) space.
You can read more about this topic in an article I wrote for the Guardian.
For further information:
Kylie Soanes firstname.lastname@example.org
Or read Kylie's blog: www.lifeontheverge.com.au
Top image: Wildlife bridges can prevent many animals, like this Brush-tailed phascogale being killed on roads. Image: Kylie Soanes
One million species threatened with extinction worldwide. That was the attention-grabbing headline that recently (and, sadly, briefly) captured the world’s attention, when the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) released its first global assessment of how the planet’s biodiversity is faring – and what that means for people.
The Alligator Rivers yellow chat is a small, bright yellow insectivorous bird of the Kakadu floodplains. This Endangered species is imperilled by habitat changes caused by altered fire regimes, buffalo and feral pigs, rising sea levels and the spread of weeds like prickly mimosa and introduced grasses. What has been happening to degrade these floodplains has been equally of concern to Traditional Owners as to yellow chat researchers.
The central purpose of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is delivering research that is relevant for and useable by decision-makers, land managers and others responsible for recovering threatened species. Working with partners is vital if we’re to achieve this.
The native forest on Norfolk Island provides vital habitat for the island’s threatened plant and bird species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet (also called endemic). When the British colonised Norfolk Island in 1788, they cleared much of the original vegetation. Remaining forest is now protected in the national park and reserves, but plant recruitment is poor and invasive non-native plant species would likely overtake the forest without the on-going efforts of park managers. To preserve remaining forest, it is important to determine the main causes of declines and the most effective actions that managers can take to address these threats and restore native vegetation.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is celebrating great conservation outcomes from projects taking place in Booderee National Park for two Endangered species: the eastern bristlebird and the southern brown bandicoot (eastern subspecies). The Australian National University’s David Lindenmayer and Chris MacGregor give us the scoop on the bristlebird and Natasha Robinson shares the good news about the southern brown bandicoot.