According to a recent report from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), a quarter of Australia’s threatened plants and 45 percent of threatened animals are in cities, including Melbourne.
But these numbers keep dwindling. During the 17 years of application of the National Environmental and Biodiversity Act, National Laws to Protect the Australian Environment, at least 20,200 hectares of habitat for these species in urban areas were destroyed.
The law to protect the environment and biodiversity is currently under review, and this is an opportunity for the federal government to “seriously raise its ambitions” and protect urban living space, he says.
There are a surprising number of threatened species in Inner Melbourne: there are eleven species in the city of Melbourne and nine in Port Phillip, partly due to the remaining coastal habitats.
Only the white-throated needletail is known to exist in all of Melbourne’s 31 counties, but the swift parrot, snarling common frog, Australasian bittern and regent honeyeater have been found in a variety of suburbs.
The critically endangered Australasian bittern and other endangered birds can be seen around Edithvale and the Seaford Wetlands and the Cheetham Wetlands in Point Cook.
Only about 1000 pairs of faster parrots live in the wild due to the huge loss of habitat, and it was a bittersweet feeling to see them in the park every day, says Livingstone.
Dr. Rohan Clarke, an ecology professor at Monash University, spotted three different Phascogales – small carnivorous Australian marsupials – a Victorian endangered species near the Yarra River during his twilight walks in North Eltham.
He’s lucky: he can easily see more than a dozen species of native mammals, as well as a number of bats, within a five-kilometer radius.
Clarke hopes that seeing animals – rarely or otherwise – in urban green havens will encourage people to feel connected to their natural surroundings. And he also believes that they will be moved to better protect this environment.
“It’s a benefit to people – even our sanity in this world today – to be able to get out and dive into your little bush,” he says. “And the downside of this is that there are a number of champions protecting these species.”
Miki Perkins is the senior journalist and environmental reporter for The Age.
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