Victoria is the most intensively settled and cleared state in Australia and much of it has been altered for farming and other human activities.

This decline in extent and quality of habitat has had major implications for Victoria’s plants and animals. Since European settlement, Victoria has lost 18 species of mammal, 2 birds, 1 snake, 3 freshwater fish, 6 invertebrates and 51 plants have become extinct. Today, between one quarter and one third of all of Victoria’s terrestrial plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, along with numerous invertebrates and ecological communities, are considered threatened with extinction.

Ongoing threats such as:

  • changes to fire frequency and intensity
  • invasive plants and animals
  • habitat loss and fragmentation
  • changes to riverflows, wetlands and floodplains

continue to place our threatened communities at risk of extinction or further decline.

Victoria has a large and growing number of threatened species and communities. Climate change and population growth are expected to exacerbate existing threats and bring new challenges for Victoria’s biodiversity.

MalleefowlMalleefowl. Photo Credit: Marcia Riederer

We are committed to investing in the recovery and management of threatened species and communities and all sectors of the community are strongly engaged in programs to improve the outlook for our native plants and animals. We are undertaking works such as

  • revegetation on public and private land from the coasts to the alps
  • connecting habitat with corridors
  • surveying and controlling invasive species like Northern Pacific Seastars and foxes
  • restoring environmental flows and establishing ‘insurance populations’ of threatened species by preserving plants in seed banks and rearing animals in safety to be released later into the wild (captive breeding).

Victoria has a strong base to build from to conserve our threatened species and communities. We are working to strengthen leadership and accountability and improve strategic biodiversity planning. Working in partnership with the community will continue to be an integral part of this journey.

Our plans

Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2037 (biodiversity plan), released in 2017, shifts our conservation management approach from planning for individual threatened species towards broader scale threat management. This approach benefits multiple species It provides a preventative approach, reducing the risk of species becoming more threatened. While it will always be necessary to understand the unique needs of species, broader scale actions that focus on multiple species can prevent many vulnerable and common species from entering the endangered category, it can provide co-benefits to endangered and near-threatened species. As a result, these actions can be highly cost effective.

However, some endangered and critically endangered species will not benefit from the broader scale approach and will need specialised interventions. Specific threat management to meet the unique needs of individual species or situations will be balanced against what can be achieved for other species.

Figure 1:  A conceptual model of the new approach – long term, whole of Victoria, and strategically identifying a cost-effective suite of actions that benefit the most species (Biodiversity Plan 2037).

Conceptual model

We are developing a range of tools to enable decision makers to plan to benefit the maximum number of species.

  • NaturePrint is a suite of decision-support products and tools designed to help us make choices about what actions to take, and in which places, to protect Victoria’s environment and plan for the future.
  • The Strategic Management Prospects is a valuable tool for guiding decisions around threatened species as it helps biodiversity managers to identify and prioritise management options in a transparent, objective and repeatable way.

Community involvement is an important part of managing the state’s environment.  We aim to build strong and enduring partnerships to help meet the ongoing challenges associated with threatened species conservation.

We work together and facilitate collaboration and involvement with a broad range of partners and stakeholders across Victoria to develop policy and implement on-ground actions.  Key partners include:

  • Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy
  • statutory authorities, such as Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Environment Protection Authority and catchment management authorities
  • state government agencies, including Department of Transport and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
  • local government
  • industry groups, such as the Victorian Association of Forest Industries
  • recovery teams
  • education providers, including Zoos Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Museums Victoria
  • non-government bodies, including Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Defender’s Office, Victorian National Parks Association, Greening Australia and Trust for Nature
  • Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians
  • community groups, including Conservation Volunteers Australia, Victorian Environment Friends Network, Landcare Victoria, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and Birdlife Australia
  • landowners
  • scientific community
  • general community

Establishing a cost-benefit framework is a priority task in the biodiversity plan.

It will help us better understand the cost-effectiveness of appropriate management interventions and improve decision making and investment in the conservation of endangered and critically endangered species.

The framework is being developed with a focus on those species which are more likely to need some form of direct intervention, because they won't typically respond well to landscape-scale management. In this way, the framework will complement the Strategic Management Prospects tool. The tool provides guidance on the relative benefit of a range of more typical landscape-scale interventions for multiple species at locations across Victoria.

The framework will provide a recommended decision flow chart, linked to information products and decision support tools and processes. The framework will be able to be updated as new information and tools become available. It will help users to make the best use of information and tools at the appropriate stage of thinking, planning and project implementation or review.

An anticipated outcome of the biodiversity plan is that a conservation option, either ex situ (off-site) or re-establishment in the wild, will be identified for each critically endangered or endangered species.

This project involves a review of current approaches to the use of translocation and various forms of gene mixing for threatened species conservation. In part, with a view to using these direct conservation interventions to a greater extent, becacuse of changing climate and challenges that it presents for some endangered species.

Case studies will showcase innovative examples of conservation management measures used to improve knowledge of applications and critical decision points. This project will also review current policies and procedures to determine changes needed to support improved conservation outcomes into the future.

Page last updated: 10/07/20