Biodiversity refers to the assortment and profusion of species in their individual eco-systems within their natural landscape.
The South East is unique in that it is a biodiversity transition zone. Two differing natural landscapes come together which provides for a variety of species of plants and animals adapted to particular conditions which can be found at either end of their natural range.
When Europeans settled the land it was home to a variety of ecosystems supported by a complex blending of temperate South East South Australia and the more arid lands of the centre. Since that time about 87% of the original native vegetation has been cleared. Creating a vacuum whereby 11 plant and 22 animal species have become regionally extinct. 333 plant species are considered threatened at the State level (63 endangered, 88 vulnerable, 180 rare and 2 not listed). Over half (27 of the 49) of the pre- European plant communities are now considered rare or threatened.1
Clearing of native vegetation, drainage of wetlands, degradation of remaining remnants and the impact of introduced species and disease have resulted in the loss of vital woodlands, forests, shrublands, herblands, grasslands, mallee, and wetlands necessary to support the indigenous biodiversity of this region. 25% of the remaining native vegetation within the South East is conserved within government reserves. A further 15% is protected by Heritage Agreement on private lands.
1. Croft et al. 1999. Biodiversity Plan for the South East of South Australia, Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs, Adelaide.
For more information on threatened species please contact:
Threatened Species Unit, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources on (08) 8735 1177.
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