State of the Environment Report title
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2004 Report


icon for biodiversity Issue: Conserving biodiversity

This issue is discussed for these areas:  

What does the shire have?

Young Shire has a low recorded biodiversity—only six different vegetation types (all of conservation significance) have been mapped there, and approximately 230 plant species (native and introduced), 123 bird species, one fish species, 18 mammal species, 19 reptile species and 10 amphibian species have been recorded.

Photogrpah of a Male Freckled Duck; Credit: Michael Murphy

Male Freckled Duck

This reduced biodiversity reflects the high level of land clearance —91% of the shire is under agriculture with the majority of native vegetation having been removed. Despite this, large areas of native bushland occur in the east of the shire (about 8% of the shire area). These act as refugia for biodiversity. The majority of these areas are protected under conservation zoning or conservation reserves (4% of the shire area). In addition, two state forests occur in the shire which have retained native forest (about 1% of the shire area). The remainder of these large areas occur on steep terrain unsuitable for agriculture. In the west of the shire, small scattered fragments of native bushland occur along creek banks, roadside verges and farm paddocks.

The shire contains occurrences of two endangered ecological communities, and populations of one plant and 16 animal species that are vulnerable or endangered nationally or in New South Wales. An additional five plant species and 37 animal species listed as vulnerable or endangered are also predicted to occur in the shire.

What has changed?

See these indicator results for more detail: | 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 knowledge of fish and aquatic macroinvertebrates, changes in the numbers of other species, changes in species populations and abundance, and the extent and condition of extant native terrestrial and riparian ecosystems. There were no comprehensive records for extent to which recovery plan actions have been carried out and their effectiveness, and little documented information on specific impacts of habitat disturbance, fragmentation or other threatening factors.

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.

Disturbances such as continued land clearance, farming practices, fragmentation of native vegetation remnants, drought and weed invasion were the major contributors to degradation and/or loss of ecological communities and habitat of native plant and animal species. Population increase within the shire may also have placed pressure on native species and communities through the demand for urban development.

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: | Ecological communities | Native species | Pest animals | Pest plants | Riparian condition | Weather |

Protecting and enhancing biodiversity

See these indicator results for more detail: | Ecological communities | Fire | 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?

The continued lack of data to allow a full assessment of the shire's biodiversity status carries with it the risk that present or ongoing practices as well any change (possibly including approved development proposals) will have adverse impacts.

Lack of monitoring of native species, populations and communities within the shire may also hamper conservation efforts, as impacts from rural development and other pressures (e.g. vegetation clearance and fragmentation and 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.