State of the Environment Report title
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2004 Report

Snowy River

icon for biodiversity Issue: Conserving biodiversity

This issue is discussed for these areas:  

What does the shire have?

Snowy River Shire has a moderately rich biodiversity—32 different vegetation types have been mapped there, and at least 1285 plant species (native and introduced), 179 bird species, 33 mammal species, 37 reptile species and 14 amphibian species have been recorded there.

Photograph of Natural Temperate Grasslands, Dry Plains TSR; Credit: Rosemary Purdie

Natural Temperate Grasslands, Dry Plains TSR

This reflects the habitat diversity in the shire—predominantly alpine and subalpine mountainous areas and tablelands—and the shire's high native vegetation cover. About 60% of the shire's area is some form of conservation reserve, and 4% of the shire is bushland.

The shire contains occurrences of three endangered ecological communities, and populations of 17 plant and 34 animal species that are vulnerable or endangered nationally or in New South Wales. An additional 13 plant species and 16 animal species listed as vulnerable or endangered are also predicted to occur in the shire.

What has changed?

See these indicator results for more details: | Aquatic macroinvertebrates | Ecological communities | Native species | Population | Riparian condition |

Insufficient data were available to assess many aspects of the shire's biodiversity during the reporting period. The major data gaps included changes in species populations and abundance, changes in aquatic macroinvertebrates, and changes in the extent and condition of terrestrial and riparian ecosystems. No information was available regarding control works undertaken by individuals (such as farmers) or community groups for any of the priority pest species.

Photograph of Purple Daisy Calotis glandulosa, Dry Plains TSR; Credit: Rosemary Purdie

Purple Daisy Calotis glandulosa, at Dry Plains TSR

The number of ecological communities and species present in the shire that are listed as vulnerable or endangered increased. Although this will assist council further in focusing conservation efforts in the future, it demonstrates the continued pressure the natural environment is under within the region.

Although the shire's population has continued to increase, this appears to have resulted in only a moderate demand for urban development within the shire. Disturbances such as fires, weed invasion and drought were the main factors exerting pressure on native ecosystems in the shire, leading to further degradation or loss of ecological communities or the habitat of native species. A number of weed species benefited from these disturbances by increasing their population size, and many pest animals increased their range in search of food due to prevailing drought conditions.

Council, individuals and community groups undertook a variety of programs and projects to enhance and protect biodiversity within the shire.

More threatened species and communities

During the current reporting period:

The 'pressure points'

See these indicator results for more detail: | Fire | Pest animals | Pest plants | Riparian condition | Weather |

Protecting and enhancing biodiversity

See these indicator results for more detail: | Ecological communities | Landuse | Native species | Pest animals | Pest plants | Riparian condition.

The natural environment maintains many essential functions that form the foundation of a healthy and sustainable environment. These are often called 'ecosystem services' and include air and water purification, waste detoxification and decomposition, crop and natural vegetation pollination, dispersal of seeds and nutrients and regulation of climate. Local councils are in a prime position to take a leading role in maintaining these vital ecosystem services (see The Biodiversity Toolbox for Local Government).

A range of activities in the shire during the reporting period were aimed at improving the condition of native ecosystems and the habitat of native species or reducing the pressures on them.

The future—what does this mean for Council?

Ongoing population growth in Snowy River Shire is likely to see expansion of urban and rural residential development. This has the potential to place further pressure on terrestrial and aquatic native species and ecosystems, including endangered ecological communities and some endangered or vulnerable species. Urban expansion may also result in weed invasion into areas currently relatively weed free.

The continued lack of data to allow a full assessment of the shire's biodiversity status carries with it the risk that approved development proposals may result in adverse impacts on the area's native plants, animals and ecosystems. Lack of monitoring of native species, populations and communities within the shire may also hamper conservation efforts, as impacts from urban and rural development and other pressures (e.g. fire, weed invasion, drought) cannot be determined and remediation measures cannot be planned. Monitoring is also essential to determine whether environmental plans and strategies and on-ground management projects are achieving the desired biodiversity outcomes.

Council needs to maintain appropriate effort and resources in the following areas of its environmental management.