What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things including plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the ecosystems in which they live. Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries with a large portion of its plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The ecosystems in which they exist are vital for our good health, well being and enjoyment of life. However biodiversity is under threat from changes to the environment and loss of habitat all over Australia, which also has one of the highest extinction rates of flora and fauna in the world.
A NSW State of the Environment Report in 1997 noted that 'the greatest threat to biodiversity in NSW was the dramatic loss of habitat, and fragmentation and isolation of remaining communities, resulting from vegetation clearance to support urban development, agriculture and transportation' .
To limit this threat, numerous reports and studies have identified the need to restore and conserve the natural environment. To be successful, this must involve ecologically sustainable management practices across the entire landscape from the creation of national parks to the conservation of biodiversity within our own backyards in the Sutherland Shire.
How does council work to conserve local biodiversity?
A Sutherland Shire Council Key Direction, identified in the Management Delivery Plan, is to conserve our abundant and healthy native flora and fauna.
Through its land use planning instruments, Sutherland Shire Council Local Environment Plan 2006 (SSLEP2006) and Sutherland Shire Development Control Plan 2006 (SSDCP2006), the council aims to manage the Shire's natural environment and waterways to ensure the long-term conservation of the Shire's biodiversity. This approach is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development to which the council is strongly committed.
The Biodiversity Strategy aims to guide the council in the effective management and conservation of its biodiversity and integrates with complementary strategies at regional, state and federal levels to ensure a coordinated and consistent approach to this important issue.
The Urban Tree and Bushland Policy represents Council‟s commitment to improving local biodiversity through increasing native habitat and enhancing links for wildlife across the Shire. It is a proactive policy that seeks to address the loss of canopy trees through the Shire and ensure the next generation of canopy trees is planted so that the unique local character we enjoy today will remain a fundamental quality of life in Sutherland Shire for the next generation. Read more about council's management of Trees on both private and public land.
The council's State of the Shire Report provides information on the pressures on biodiversity and the current state of biodiversity within the Sutherland Shire. It also provides background information on the various environmental response programs being undertaken by Sutherland Shire Council and other agencies.
How can residents participate in the conservation of local biodiversity?
- Join Council's Greenweb Program, contact the Greenweb Officer on 02 9710 0463.
- Create a habitat for wildlife in your backyard using rocks in landscaping, bird feeders, birdbaths, small ponds, hollow logs and possum and bird boxes.
- Use alternatives to conventional pesticides. Use soapy water, chilli spray or blood and bone instead. Native birds are also a natural control for pests and insects.
- Practise good pet management by keeping all pets inside at night and ensuring your cat is desexed, wears a bell and reflective collar.
- Remove environmental weeds from your garden.
- Mulch your garden to introduce micro-organisms that attract lizards and birds and help your garden save water.
- Use a combination of plant types to provide a wide range of food sources for native birds and insects.
- Plant densely to provide protective cover for smaller native birds.
- Create garden beds with multiple layers of trees, shrubs, climbers, native grasses and groundcover to provide habitat connections for wildlife movement.
Additional information for students
A range of additional resources for students and interested residents on the topic of biodiversity is available by accessing Sutherland Shire Libraries.