Biodiversity includes all components of the living world, the number and variety of native plants, animals and other living things across our land, waterways, marine and coast. It includes the variety of their genetic information, their habitats and their relationship to the ecosystems within which they live1

Biodiversity underpins a healthy natural environment. It is fundamental to our economy, our physical and mental wellbeing and has value and a role in nature in its own right. For Traditional Owners, biodiversity has cultural and spiritual value and is part of their connection to Country.   

The West Gippsland region supports large areas of high biodiversity value, many of which are located within parks and conservation reserves on public land. Native forests, coastal and wetland environments, along with waterways provide important habitat and corridors for a range of flora and fauna species. These areas are a focus for active management, research and citizen science activities involving public land managers, Traditional Owners and community groups. 

Remnant vegetation in cleared agricultural areas, along waterways and around towns and  built-up areas are also important areas of natural habitat. Protecting and linking these through permanent protection, revegetation and enhancement activities are a focus for community based on-ground action. 

West Gippsland’s unique biodiversity

The West Gippsland region has a diverse range of ecosystems, with six of Victoria’s 28 terrestrial bioregions represented in the region, including all of the Wilsons Promontory bioregion and most of the Strzelecki Ranges bioregion. The Gippsland Plain bioregion is the most extensive bioregion, and has been heavily impacted by historic clearing for agriculture, industry and settlement. The Highlands Southern Fall bioregion is the second most extensive and is mostly within public land in state forests and parks. The region also contains part of the Victorian Alps and East Gippsland Lowlands bioregions.

Four of the five Victorian marine bioregions are also represented in the West Gippsland region including:

  • Central Victoria (San Remo to Cape Liptrap)
  • Flinders (Wilsons Promontory to the western extent of the Ninety Mile Beach)
  • Twofold Shelf (from the western extent of Ninety Mile Beach eastwards)
  • Victorian embayments (bays, inlets and estuaries).

While the region is home to diverse terrestrial, marine and aquatic flora and fauna species, many of these are threatened. Over 95 fauna and flora species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and over 600 of Victoria’s threatened species formally listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act) have been recorded in the region. There is also a high representation of endangered, rare and vulnerable ecological vegetation classes (EVC) across the region.

The challenge of declining biodiversity

Victoria’s biodiversity, including native flora and fauna and their habitats, has been declining since European settlement. Victoria has lost around 80 species, and between one quarter and a third of all of Victoria’s terrestrial plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, along with numerous invertebrates and ecological communities, are considered to be at threat of extinction6. Climate change and population growth are expected to exacerbate existing threats and bring new challenges for Victoria’s biodiversity1.

Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 and the regional Biodiversity Response Planning process

Biodiversity 2037 Protecting Victoria’s Environment is Victoria’s 20-year plan to stop the decline of native plants and animals and improve the natural environment. Biodiversity 2037 sets targets for management outputs (including weed control in priority locations) that contribute to biodiversity outcomes and the goal ‘Victoria’s natural environment is healthy’.

Under Biodiversity 2037, the Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP) process is a long-term area-based planning approach to biodiversity conservation. It is designed to strengthen alignment between agencies, Traditional owners and the community by working together to identify, promote and tackle local biodiversity needs as part of an ongoing collective process. The regional BRP process identifies Focus Landscapes and the priority actions for these landscapes drawing on stakeholder input, local knowledge and modelling. There are seven focus landscapes in West Gippsland region.

More information on the region’s biodiversity values and actions to protect biodiversity is available via a set of fact sheets for Biodiversity Response Planning focus landscapes. The fact sheets can be used to provide direction on what on-ground activities would be highest priority to do to get the best biodiversity result. This can be helpful when thinking about applying for funding to undertake on ground projects.

New Flora and Fauna Guarantee list

Over the past four years, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has been leading a project to assess the conservation status of all Victorian threatened species. Following the gazettal of almost 2,000 species in May and June 2021, Victoria’s new Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act Threatened List is now available.

The new FFG Act Threatened List, simplifies planning and regulatory processes by creating a single list for Victorian threatened species aligned to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Assessment Method agreed by State and Commonwealth Environment Ministers and enshrined in the FFG Act.

Statewide Conservation Plan

The Trust for Nature (TfN) is currently revising its Statewide Conservation Plan. The plan will include provisional targets that aim to significantly increase the area of private land that is permanently protected with a focus on conserving under-represented ecosystems and addressing the dual threats of climate change and land clearing. The regional outcomes in this RCS will reflect and align with the provisional targets identified in the Trust for Nature new Statewide Conservation Plan and those outlined in Biodiversity 2037.