In simple terms, biodiversity can be described as "the variety of plants and animals (species) and the places they live (ecosystems)".
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council are preparing a Biodiversity Strategy which seeks to inform Council about the most important areas for biodiversity conservation and landscape connectivity in the Local Government Area (LGA). This information will greatly aid strategic planning within our LGA and also help identify potential "biodiversity offset" and opportunities for funding for private landholders to improve the biodiversity value of their land.
Two reference groups have been established for the Biodiversity Strategy. The first is a Community Reference Group which is made up of a wide cross-section of community stakeholders and Councillors Lisa Intemann and Trevor Sargeant. The second is a Scientific Reference Group which is made up of regional scientists with an in-depth knowledge of biodiversity.
The Biodiversity Strategy is using some very advanced computer modelling and mapping techniques to identify key biological assets. The programs being used are underpinned by quality science and have been previously used by other Councils.
One such program is "Zonation" which identifies the most important areas for biodiversity conservation. The program uses the "CAR" conservation principle, being that a network of reserves should be "Comprehensive" (include the full range of ecosystems), "Adequate" (areas are sufficient to support populations and processes) and "Representative" (that the full vatriation in local ecosystems are captured).
The Zonation modelling has now been completed in our area and reviewed by the Community and Expert Panels. They both feel that the model has produced highly accurate results based on local knowledge. The results of the model were compared against an ecologist's review of an area based on comprehensive field work, and the two produced remarkably similar results.
The second program being used by the Biodiversity Strategy is "GapClosR". This program examines landscape connectivity (the ability/inability for animals and plants to move - for example seed dispersal). Initial trials of the software have been done (a necessary step before running the full model) with these trial informed by in-depth discussions with the Expert Panel. We are now ready to run the full models which the Expert Panel will review following its development.
A draft copy of the Biodiversity Strategy should be on exhibition in July-August 2016.
If you have any questions or comments about the Biodiversity Strategy, please do not hesitate to contact Council's Ecologist Rebecca Montague-Drake on 6581 8639 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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