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23 Feb

Biodiversity in your Backyard


SOLUTION AT Australian Expert Writers

Biodiversityin yourBackyardBiodiversity is the variety of life on our planet: the differentplants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and theecosystems of which they are a part.Australia is one of the most diverse countries on the planet.It is home to more than one million species of plants andanimals, many of which are found nowhere else in theworld.Life on Earth wouldn’t be the same if our biodiversity wereto be radically affected. A highly diverse and complexecosystem is a sign of health and has a positive impact onthe quality of air we breathe, the water we drink and thefood we eat, as well as providing us with materials for usein our daily lives and nature to enjoy as part of our City’snatural beauty.This is the reason the Council is committed to working withthe community to enhance our biodiversity.Why is BiodiversityImportant?Maintaining and enhancing biodiversity is important for anumber of reasons including:• Biodiversity maintains the critical ecosystem processesthat support life. Healthy, functioning ecosystems arenecessary to maintain and regulate the atmosphere,climate, fresh water, soil formation, cycling of nutrientsand disposal of wastes.• There are aesthetic and cultural reasons for themaintenance of biodiversity. Our community places ahigh value on native plants, animals and ecosystems,which contribute to a sense of cultural identity, spiritualenrichment and recreation.How diverse is yourbackyard?You would be surprised! Do you attract native birds toyour garden? What about koalas, possums or even nativemice and other cute fury creatures? Are there nativeplants growing in your garden?These animals and plants are often what we imaginewhen we talk about biodiversity – but don’t forget themicroscopic animals that play an important role too. Your‘diverse garden’ also has butterflies, ants, native snails,earthworms, beetles, bugs and lots of other invertebrates.If these animals don’t frequent your garden, there aresome simple steps you can take to provide a habitat forour native animals and insects. See the Common LocalNative Plants Brochure in this pack for ideal plant typesand a planting guide.While everyone knows it’s essential to conserve ournative forests, often we underestimate the difference wecan make by planting natives in our own gardens. Thepresence of native plants provides a miniature habitatfor native birds, lizards, butterflies and other invertebrates.Native plants create shelter, shade, nesting places andleaf litter, prevent erosion and provide food in the form ofleaves, nectar, berries, seeds, and associated bugs.They also help to provide a wildlife ‘corridor’, allowingwildlife to jump easily from one feeding and/or nestingarea to another, with the added benefit of giving you theenjoyment of watching nature close to home.You CAN create your own ‘native habitat’ in yourbackyard. This brochure tells you how to begin.What is the Council doingabout Biodiversity?To provide direction for the ongoing conservation of nativevegetation and biodiversity across our City, a BiodiversityStrategy was endorsed by the Council in October 2006.The Strategy will help to ensure that future managementof native flora and fauna is directed to the highest priorityareas, particularly when it comes to controlling the threatof weeds and protection of significant species.The project builds on the important communityrevegetation work already done by the Friends of theBillabong, Our Patch, Greening Australia and othercommunity groups across our City.The Council is also committed to promoting activemanagement and retention of the City’s urban trees,particularly the large local native trees such as River RedGums and SA Blue Gums. Large trees with hollows provideimportant habitat for local native fauna.Trees are considered to be important, not only to theenvironment but also to the social wellbeing of thecommunity. Trees contribute to the character and amenityof the area, assist in biodiversity conservation, and provideshade and shelter for people, as well as habitat for fauna.Threats to BiodiversityAll humans affect the environment in which they live. Inorder to survive, we need to have our basic needs of food,shelter and warmth met. How we go about meeting theseneeds is the part we play in affecting biodiversity.Prior to European settlement, the Adelaide Plains wasprobably the most biologically diverse region in SA. Overthe years since European settlement, most of the nativevegetation in the Adelaide Plains has been cleared, andthe remaining native plants and animals are finding itincreasingly difficult to survive. At least 29 species havebecome extinct in the region since 1836. Today lessthan 4% of the original vegetation of the Adelaide Plainsremains.We still see native birds, lizards, bats, frogs and otheranimals in our suburbs, but there are far fewer differenttypes than there used to be – our native wildlife isdisappearing at an alarming rate.At least 90 Australian species have been identified as beingat risk – including koalas, wombats and some species ofkangaroo, together with countless other mammals, birds,reptiles, frogs and fish.Native bushland has cultural, aesthetic and recreationalimportance to many Australians, but some of our uniqueplants and animals are under threat and we need toprotect them and their habitat.Since many native species need specific environmentalconditions to survive, loss of habitat is a major cause forspecies being lost from local areas. If this happens acrossregions of similar habitat, animal and plant species canbecome extinct.By creating a native habitat in your backyard, along withmany thousands of Australians, you can work towardsproviding a diverse environment for our threatenedspecies.Biodiversity and ClimateChangeAs habitats change with the changes in temperature,rainfall and the severity of droughts and floods, hundreds ofAustralian species face the very real prospect of extinction.Rare species, fragmented ecosystems and areas alreadyunder pressure from pollution and deforestation are most atrisk.The dryness of the Australian continent makes our nativeanimals and plants especially vulnerable in the face ofclimate change.Biodiversity in your BackyardHardenbergia violacea – Native LilcaOur PatchSt Peters BillabongInvasive SpeciesInvasive species are animals, plants, parasites or diseasecausing organisms that establish outside their naturalrange and become pests. Native species can alsobecome invasive if transferred outside their natural range.Many of the most damaging invasive animal species wereoriginally introduced either for sport, as pets, or as livestockand pack animals. Some, such as the cane toad andplague minnow Gambusia holbrooki, were introduced tocontrol other pests and became pests themselves. Others,such as black and brown rats and the house mouse,arrived accidentally.Invasive plants have been introduced in a variety of ways.For example as crops, pasture and garden plants andto prevent erosion. A number of invasive plants spreadrapidly and are thriving in the bush. Garden escape plantsspread into parks and waterways and smother nativeplants. The Department for Environment and Heritagebrochure ‘Environmental Weeds’ lists the weeds andgarden escape plants to remove from your garden.Making a Difference in yourown BackyardStart by:• Growing plants that occur naturally in your area toincrease the amount and type of original habitat;• Using features such as bird baths, hollow logs, ponds,rocks and nesting boxes to improve habitat;• Using plants grown from seed gathered from localremnants;• Removing environmental weeds and gardenescapees;• Containing pets at night; cats are natural predatorsso keeping them inside an enclosed area at nightsignificantly reduces the number of native animalssuch as possums, birds, frogs, lizards and insects thatthey kill;• Keeping a compost bin handy for all your food scraps– composting is a great way to recycle organic matterlike kitchen scraps and lawn clippings; it will create athriving habitat for many insects and become a tastysource of garden nutrients;• Using compost rather than fertilisers (excess fertilisercan run off your garden and into our waterways,having the potential to cause toxic algal blooms);• Not removing fallen logs or rocks from bushland as theyalready provide habitat for native wildlife; and• Developing your experience and knowledge as yourgarden grows;• Relaxing in and enjoying your native garden.Why plant natives?There are many benefits to growing native plants that wereoriginally in your area. Even small areas along the side ofyour house will help provide habitat for native fauna. Thebenefits include:• promotion of biodiversity through species diversity;• the provision of food sources for native animals;• require less water and fertiliser and are more droughttolerant;• protection of original genetic integrity of nativevegetation;• suited to local soil and climate;• conserves our natural heritage;• attracts birds and other wildlife.The Common Local Native Plants brochure shows howattractive native plants are. You can also see them on theground at:● Belair National Park, Upper Sturt Rd, Belair;● Windsor Street, Unley;● St Peters Billabong, entry off River Street, St Peters;● Linden Gardens, Cnr Portrush Rd & Greenhill Rd; and● Wadmore Park, Addison Ave, Athelstone.For information on other local native species visitwww.urbanforest.on.net.Where can I purchase localnative plants?Plants sourced from locally collected seed generally needto be purchased from specialist growers. A list of nativegrowers is available on www.urbanforest.on.net. Not allgrowers sell small amounts so please check before visitinga grower. You may need to order your plants the previousyear so they can be propagated. You will generally have toorder plants by Nov/Dec for the following Autumn/Winter.When should I plant?The best time to plant is in Autumn, when the ground is still alittle warm, just before the natural winter rain. This will allowthe plants to establish good root growth, flourish in springand then be well established with roots firmly in the groundto survive the summer.Weed control before planting is important and mulching willhelp growth. Additional watering during the first summermay be necessary.Top BackyardBiodiversity Tips1 Plant a variety of local native plants that flower atvarious times over the year – this provides a yearround source of food for native wildlife.2 Plant native plants of different heights – the morevariety you can provide in the size of plants, thegreater the variety of birds and animals you are likelyto attract.3 Have a visible safe place for birds to congregate.4 Be a responsible pet owner, keep pets inside at night,walk your dog on a lead and pick up droppings.5 Use chemicals sparingly, and find alternativeswherever possible.6 Remove major environmental weeds from yourgarden.7 Compost kitchen and garden waste.While these are small steps, they still have an impact onbiodiversity. You can also get involved in biodiversityconservation in many other ways, such as Our Patchgroups for revegetation working bees or Trees for Lifefor plant propogation. Call the Council on 8366 4555 tofind out more about volunteer programs in the City ofNorwood Payneham St Peters.City of Norwood Payneham &St Peters175 The Parade, NORWOODSA 5067Telephone: 8366 4555www.npsp.sa.gov.auUrban Biodiversity Unit, DEHwww.urbanforest.on.net/main.htm● Backyards for wildlife● Native Plant Lists for theAdelaide Region● List of native plant growers● Weed managementTrees for lifewww.treesforlife.org.au● Volunteer planting andpropagationDog and Cat ManagementBoardwww.dogsncats.asn.auLavatera plebeia – Australian HollyhockOur Patch“With the scarcity of water…the time is opportune to fosteran appreciation of nativeplants which are adaptedto local conditions and todevelop a sustainable ‘senseof place’ related to pride inlocal Adelaide plants andanimals”Daniels & Tait 2005Dianella revoluta – Black Anther Flax-lilyK.MaitlandAcknowledgementsThis brochure is part of the Backyard Biodiversity Pack producedwith assistance from the Adelaide and Mount Lofty RangesNatural Resources Management Board.Other brochures in the pack include “Common Local NativeSpecies of the Adelaide Plains” as well as “Environmental Weedsare Choking Out Native Plants” produced by the Departmentfor Environment and Heritage.ReferencesDaniels, C.B. & Tait, C.J. (Eds) (2005) ‘Adelaide Nature of a City:The Ecology of a Dynamic City from 1836 to 2036”. BioCity:Centre for Urban Habitats, University of Adelaide.Department of the Environment and Water Resources website:Invasive Species Fact Sheet and Biodiversity sectionUrban Biodiversity Unit, DEH, “Backyards for Wildlife” websitewww.urbanforest.on.net/backyard.htmNorwood Payneham & St Peters website – What is Biodiversitywww.npsp.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=893WWF Australia website www.wwf.org.auOur Patchwww.ourpatch.on.netVolunteer revegetationprogramsABC Gardening Websitewww.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets● Chemical use● Weed managementKeeping Cats Happy IndoorsFact Sheet – Animal Welfare.Humane Society Internationalwww.dlg.nsw.gov.au/dlg/dlghome/documents/newsletters/catfsht1.pdfThreatened Species Networkwww.nccnsw.org.au● attracting birds, bees andbutterflies● pet managementFurther Information

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