The University of Melbourne has released a 10-point list for Victorians to help the natural environment adapt to climate change.
Victoria boasts more than 300 different ecosystems, supporting thousands of species of life, but many are at increasing risk due to climate change.
“Climate change effects are becoming more and more apparent and we would have all already seen changes in our local environment,” Professor Ary Hoffmann, a climate adaptation expert from the university’s Bio21 Institute, said.
“For instance, in the Victorian Alps we have found that grass cover has been decreasing over the last 30 years whereas shrub and forb cover has been increasing.”
“These 10 tips are about keeping people mindful of protecting our precious biodiversity, but at the same time accepting necessary change.”
The list is a joint collaboration between the University of Melbourne, the Victorian National Parks Association and the Royal Society of Victoria.
“This is based on some of the best knowledge in the country, provided through scientists and researchers to community groups, government agencies and NGOs,” Professor Hoffmann said.
“We hope this list is the start of a long conversation with our fellow Victorians about keeping the state rich in biodiversity.”
The 10 points are:
- Listen, engage and work with others – Because every Victorian is a part of the discussion (and the environment), with thoughts and ideas to share about their local areas
- Accept that natural areas will change – As with the burnt forests of the Central Highlands, there can be acceptance and enjoyment of altered environments
- Protect reserves and look after nature on private land – Two-thirds of the state is owned privately, so turning our focus to our own backyards is just as important as funding for public spaces
- Remove threats (such as clearing, weeds and feral animals) – Climate change or no climate change, we always need to be mindful of things like land clearing, livestock grazing and housing development
- Use natural processes like fires and floods to promote diversity – Floods and fire have negative connotations, but it must be remembered that they are often part of natural life cycles
- Connect landscapes and use “climate-ready” plants – We not only need to plant more to link isolated patches of flora but be careful about selecting plants that are more likely to survive in hotter and drier climates
- Welcome nature into our cities – As cities expand, so must our capacity to look after nature locally with good urban planning and support for city parks, reserves and waterways
- Record changes in our local area – The more we know how things change, the better we can adapt; and citizen science is one of the most resourceful ways of doing this
- Promote diversity in all that we do – All of our actions should aim to create distinctive, self-sustaining ecosystems and all of our actions should also be diverse
- Keep positive, informed and engaged – Giving Victoria’s biodiversity a helping hand is a job for everyone, and positivity will lead to positive future
Professor Hoffmann said the “10 things” underpinned existing climate change strategies, but did not replace them.
“Some of these actions are new, but some are quite old and just common sense. It’s just vital that we remember to give nature a helping hand,” he said.
Victorians are encouraged to visit vicnature2050.org to read about the 10 points in full.