David Francis (Word - 35 KB) - Department of the Environment

Conservation Incentives and Design Section
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601
To whom it may concern
RE: Draft National Wildlife Corridors Plan
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and
Communities are to be commended for this initiative. The plan is a well
conceived document and represents an excellent step forward in corridor
planning and management at a national level.
The plan, and proposed Wildlife Corridors Act, has the potential to address the
significant impacts that linear infrastructure has on fragmentation of habitat and
wildlife mortality (i.e. roadkill). However, the draft plan only makes passing
reference to such impacts and the mitigation measures that can be employed.
Much can be learnt from the European example in this regard. Specifically I refer
to Natura 2000 project executed in the European Union arising from the Habitats
Directive (see http://www.natura.org/). An important component of this work is
addressing fragmentation caused by linear infrastructure through the COST 341project 'Habitat Fragmentation due to Linear Transportation Infrastructure' (see
http://www.iene.info/cost341.php and downloads available on this page). The
plan and Wildlife Corridors Act could address the impacts of linear infrastructure
in a similar manner by enforcing the implementation of appropriate mitigation
measures where linear infrastructure is planned within the national corridor
By not elevating the profile of road/rail crossing structures in a document such as
the National Wildlife Corridors Plan will be a missed opportunity. Despite the
Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) hosting a national
symposium on the subject in 2009 and an ever growing awareness of the
impacts of linear infrastructure on wildlife there have been no legislative
advances with regard to enforcing barrier mitigation, with the minor exception of
Queensland State Planning Policies pertaining to koala planning/management.
Further, while the plan recognises the efforts of Federal/State Governments and
non government organisations in corridor planning and management, there is
only passing reference to the role of local government. Local government plays
a significant role in the planning and management of corridors through planning
scheme development and administration, land acquisitions, barrier mitigation and
community programs - to identify but a few examples. The plan requires greater
recognition of the role of local government and needs to identify the measures
that can be employed to assist local government in corridor planning and
Some specific comment regarding the draft plan:
1. Figures 2 and 4 would benefit from including linear infrastructure crossing
structures (e.g. land bridges, rope bridges and underpasses including
bridges or culverts). In many instances these are not “nice to have”, but
fundamental to the survival of some species such as the Mountain Pygmy
Possums (pictured on the front cover) or some north Queensland arboreal
2. While paragraph 1 of Section 1.5 (p.5) indicates the corridor network will
include “Local-scale corridors” the 3 dot points in paragraph 3 excludes
the notion. Local government plays a major role in identifying and
managing biodiversity at the local level (a point acknowledged in Figure
4). It is suggested that a dot point is included along the lines of
“Facilitating the identification of local-scale wildlife corridors through
supporting local governments”. Support could include the development of
a ‘toolkit’ for local government to identify, plan for and manage local
corridors, or could extend to financial support (such as that currently
provided under the NRS program).
3. Figure 3 is a little confusing. Continental corridors are not specifically
illustrated/labeled. What purports to be a “Local Corridor” is around 6km
wide. In Queensland, the State government maps “State Significant”
wildlife corridors through their Biodiversity Planning Assessments that are
6km wide. Local corridors can be effective at a much narrower scale
(~30-300m wide). It is therefore recommended that figure is amended to
more accurately show the proposed hierarchy of corridors.
4. Paragraph 1 of page 19 refers only to “remnant” habitat and “remnants” of
native vegetation. Many of the vital corridors remaining in the landscape
support regrowth vegetation. Refer to
http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:184589 by way of example.
5. Paragraph 1 of p. 20 introduces the notion of “urban and peri-urban
wildlife corridors”. It is unclear how these differ from Local corridors.
Similarly, the terms “ecological pathways” and “ecological networks” on
p.23 are not defined. The document will significantly benefit from having
all levels of corridor explicitly defined in the glossary.
6. While the image on p. 20 is attractive, it is known that it is a ‘set up’.
Unfortunately there has been no thorough research indicating whether
these ‘rail’ structures work for koalas, and in the instance of this image, it
is understood a captive animal was placed on the rail. It would be far
better to include an image of a vegetated land bridge (e.g. those in
Queensland or northern New South Wales) that have been rigorously
studied and have been shown to be effective.
7. The last paragraph on p.23 again fails to recognise the role of local
government. Local government plays an important role in the planning,
protection and management of corridors. Similarly, Table 1 on p.31
neglects to consider the role of local government and assumes all local
initiatives are “community-led”; the role of local policy/regulatory
mechanisms and corridor projects should not be discounted.
8. The second paragraph on p.26 proposes a ‘possible’ approach for
establishing National Wildlife Corridors involving public nomination. While,
from a consultative perspective, this has merit, it runs the risk of planning
corridors in an ad hoc manner. A recommended approach would be to
prepare a draft based on existing knowledge (i.e. what have State and
local governments already mapped) and then call for
nominations/comment. Calling for nominations before this important step
potentially disregards the good work already undertaken by State and
local governments.
9. One of the functions of the Act, as listed on p.25 could be a
facilitation/support role as outlined in Point 2 above.
10. An Act represents an opportunity to ensure new linear infrastructure
(roads/rail) within National Wildlife Corridors is constructed as not to
compromise the functionality of the corridor. The Act can outline a
process of identifying appropriate mitigation measures (such as land
bridges, underpasses, funnel fencing etc.) to maintain, or in some
instances enhance, connectivity. Ideally, existing infrastructure that
compromise these corridors should be augmented with mitigation
measures, but this may be beyond the ‘reach’ of the Act. It is
recommended that this is added as one of the functions of the Act on p.25.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. If you require further elaboration of
the points provided above I would be happy to provide additional input.
Yours sincerely
David Francis