Biodiversity publications archive

Native vegetation clearance, habitat loss and biodiversity decline

An overview of recent native vegetation clearance in Australia and its implications for biodiversity
Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 6

Andreas Glanznig, Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, June 1995

Australian Capital Territory

Recent and current situation

In the Australian Capital Territory broadscale clearance of woody native vegetation has ceased. This situation is reflected in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory which reports that no woody native vegetation was cleared between 1983 and 1993 (Corey, ACT Department of Environment, Land and Planning, pers comm cited in NGGIC 1994, p.129b).

However recent loss of grassland and grassy woodland communities is significant. An estimated total of 780 ha of the original treeless grassland remains in the ACT. It represents approximately eight per cent of the original extent estimated to have been in the order of 10 000 ha. Fragmentation of the 51 grassland and grassy woodland sites identified by mid-1994 has created numerous small remnant patches. Fourteen grasslands are less than five hectares in size and only five grasslands are over 100 ha (Sharp and Dunford 1994; Sharp 1994, pers comm). Continued destruction and fragmentation of habitat through urban development, pastoral use and weed invasion is causing significant impacts. Vegetation communities such as lowland native grasslands and yellow box woodlands are considered to be particularly at risk (Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, ACT 1994, p.112).