With a recent push for infill development and to reduce our physical footprint on the landscape comes a conundrum for nature: more pressure is put on the little remaining bushland in our urban areas.
The concept of ecological corridors is a way to balance out the needs of urban development and nature. It simply means to provide habitat or natural resources in between our nature reserves that acts as a stepping stone or link to support natural processes.
Many dangers exist for our native animals in the urban area, from car strikes to domestic pets. Corridors in the form of native vegetation, logs or other shelter allows and animals to move more freely and safely between areas. There are several reasons why animals may want or need to more: whether they’re moving for food and water, for breeding, to make seasonal changes, from threats such as fire, or, more recently, to follow preferred habitat as a changing climate causes shifts in plant communities.
Many people use the term wildlife corridors because it is easy to see how they would help animal species, but the term ‘ecological corridor’ is more accurate, since these corridors have many benefits for our native plants too. Corridors provide for the movement of essential pollinators such as birds and insects, which are crucial to plant reproduction. The movement of pollinators along corridors represents the movement of genetics between otherwise isolated reserves. New genetics in a population can create variability and increases the chances of some plants being able to adapt better to threats.
Corridors can vary hugely in size, from street trees to small gardens to roadside verges, all the way up to kilometers of vegetation linking across the landscape. The City of Melville has a number of ecological corridors that have been identified, from regionally significant corridors linking the whole of Perth (in green on the map above), down to local streets and neighbourhoods that we think make good links between our natural areas (blue on the map above). Street trees have benefits for us as well as nature, creating microclimates and cooling the ground underneath them, not to mention all the ecosystem services that they provide including storm water treatment, oxygen, cycling of nutrients and of course habitat for animals.
There are many ways that you can assist us in developing a green civilisation. Here are a few examples that can strengthen our ecological corridors:
- Plant a tree or request a street tree
- Create a native verge or garden with a dense shrub layer
- Use logs, leaf litter, bird baths and other habitat items to attract animals to your garden
- Report feral foxes or cats sighted in your neighbourhood
- Keep domestic pets on your property
- Assist your local friends of group in restoring and maintaining bushland reserves
- Participate in citizen science projects that help determine where animals are moving in the landscape
Written by Kellie Fowler | Environmental Education Officer