Planning to connect biodiversity areas for wildlife movement

Althena Davidson

1 City of Gold Coast Council, PO Box 5042, GCMC, QLD, 5042,

We have all heard of mangroves to mountains, beaches to bushland and hinterland to coast approaches to conservation planning. City of Gold Coast Council is putting this into practice through its Biodiversity Area mapping project that identifies east-west hinterland to coast corridors, substantial remnants and core habitat areas within its local government boundaries. The City defined these critical areas using the Marxan program, a conservation planning tool, to scientifically determine the boundaries of these critical areas. The project originally took a strategic map, and defined the alignment through a scientific process down to the parcel level. The program considered inputs such as remnant vegetation, threatened species locations, urban development threats, and connectivity to existing protected area estate.  The outcome from this project is that these areas can be protected, restored and managed through a variety of programs including the planning scheme, conservation partnerships, acquisition and restoration. A connected network of corridors, and retention of significant areas of remnant vegetation, will allow for refugia and climate change retreat for flora and fauna. The ability for wildlife to move through the landscape to more suitable habitats is an important outcome for the project. Council actively undertake restoration, protect habitat through planning mechanisms, engage with private landholders to understand the environmental values on their land, and target offset plantings in these areas to provide the connect the network of Biodiversity Areas.