Concerns about the ecological condition of our rangelands and about the social and economic sustainability of its industries have been building for some time. Relatively little is known about trends and threatening process affecting rangelands species at risk, but invasive alien species (feral animals and weeds) and inappropriate fire regimes are heavily implicated. Climate change is an emerging threat. Some rangelands bioregions are under-represented in conservation reserves.
The 2008 ACRIS report notes a limited ability to report on change in rangelands biodiversity but uses available evidence to suggest that parts of the rangelands remain vulnerable to biodiverstiy decline.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) protects the environment, particularly matters of National Environmental Significance (Protected matters).
The EPBC Act also lists species and ecological communities for which Conservation Advice exists for selected NRM Regions, including several in the rangelands.
Biodiversity and invasive species in the rangelands
Invasive alien species, both feral animals and weeds, pose major threats to rangelands biodiversity.
- Invasive species
- Commmonwealth legislation
- Australian Government funding
- Progress on invasive species
- Key Threatening Processes
- Threat Abatement Plans
- The Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre
- The Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management
- AQIS, Northern Australia Quarantine Initiative
- Biosecurity Australia
- Invasive Species Council
- WWF Australia - Weeds, pests and diseases
Biodiversity and fire regimes in the rangelands
Fire is a natural part of the ecology of Australia's rangelands. However, unnatural fire frequency and intensity, and large scale fires, can damage the rangelands and rangeland biodiversity, as can the absence of fire where it was once part of an ecosystem. Fire regimes are an increasingly important part of effective rangeland management.
- Fire management - Managing for biodiversity in the rangelands - Summary report - June 2004
- Fire ecology and management in the rangelands and savannas (CSIRO)
- Savanna Explorer - North Australian information resource
Biodiversity and climate change
Climate change is an emerging issue for biodiversity in the rangelands, particularly for those species with isolated or limited distribution and dispersal capacities, or where it is the driver for unpredictable events such as lengthy and intense drought and large scale fires.
- National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan 2004-2007
- Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity in Australia
Biodiversity science and research
The ACRIS 2008 report notes that a set of useful indicators for reporting change in biodiversity has been developed, but that the ability to track changes in biodiversity remains limited due to the lack of systematic monitoring data for much of the rangelands. Further scientific effort will be necessary to improve our knowledge.
The National Reserve System
Indigenous Australians Caring for Country
The Australian Government’s $36 million Maintaining Australia's Biodiversity Hotspots Programme aims to manage threats in high conservation value areas that are still relatively intact and maintain their biodiversity values. Fifteen hotspots have been identified across Australia, at least six of which include rangelands ecosystems.
National and Commonwealth Heritage listings
The National and Commonwealth Heritage Lists include natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding national heritage value to the Australian nation. A significant number of these places protect rangelands biodiversity.
Stewardship and market-based instrument initiatives
Approximately 77 per cent of Australia's land area is managed by farmers, graziers, Indigenous communities, and other private land managers. The Environmental Stewardship Programme is an Australian Government initiative that offers contracts to landholders who provide environmental services on a cost-effective basis.
State and territory governments
States and Territories have responsibilities under their legislation and policies for biodiversity management. Some examples are:
- South Australian biological surveys
- South Australian Dryland Salinity
- Parks and Wildlife of the Northern Territory
- Queensland Great Artesian Basin
- West Australian Land and Water
Other information sources
Other publications that relate to managing for biodiversity in the rangelands