Biodiversity is the term given to the variety of life on earth. Biodiversity not only holds its own intrinsic value, but is vital for the health and wellbeing of our environment, our society and economy. Three bioregions sit within Macedon Ranges: the Victorian Volcanic Plains, the Central Victorian Uplands and the Goldfields.
The Macedon Ranges Shire contains many different ecosystems that are characterised by different types of plants and animals. These ecosystems include woodlands, grasslands, forests and wetlands. Each ecosystem is classified according to ecological vegetation classes (EVC). In the Macedon Ranges, twelve EVCs are 'endangered', nine are 'vulnerable', four are 'depleted' and six are of 'least concern'.
Further information about EVCs in Macedon Ranges can be accessed from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's Biodiversity Interactive Tool website.
The Macedon Ranges contains a range of wet, damp and dry forests which are critical to Victoria's biodiversity and support our ecosystems by helping to purify our water, stabilise our soil, retain nutrients and absorb carbon emissions. These forests support a diversity of rare and threatened flora and fauna species such as the Common Spider Orchid, Dwarf Silver Wattle, Brush-tailed Phascogale, Powerful Owl, Barking Owl, Greater Glider and Brown Treecreeper.
Much of the Macedon Ranges was originally a temperate woodland. Today, only fragments of this original ecosystem exists, particularly on hilly sites where soils were often less nutrient rich compared to the flat pasture areas.
A woodland is an area of widely spaced trees where the canopy of trees don't touch. They have trees that rarely exceed 30 metres in height, and grassy ground cover. These significant ecosystems have been extensively modified since European settlement for farming.
A healthy woodland is made up of multiple vegetation layers which include a tree canopy cover, an under storey of shrubs, grassy cover and a ground layer of litter. All of these layers act as a system that provides shelter and food for native species of wildlife.
Ground cover such as old logs, rocks, fallen trees and leaf litter are associated with highly diverse areas of woodland. A woodland environment that looks messy is often a healthy system. Fallen timber provides ideal habitat for a range of insects which provide other local native fauna such as Sugar Gliders with ample food. Native reptiles also use ground litter such as fallen logs and rocks to shelter from weather and to lay eggs under.
Grasslands are fragile ecosystems that usually have few or no trees. Although grassland plants are generally small, they can create colourful mosaics, especially in springtime when wildflowers are blooming. Grasslands and grassy woodlands once covered about a third of Victoria. Today less than 0.1% is left. Grasslands support a range of rate or threatened plants, birds and reptiles that are in danger of extinction. A few scattered patches of grassland and grassy woodland vegetation remain in Macedon Ranges, mainly in the south of the shire.
A key requirement for the viability of ecosystems and the survival of flora and fauna species is connectivity of vegetation and waterways. This allows for the movement of wildlife and cross-pollination within individual plant species. In the Macedon Ranges, connectivity is provided by roadside vegetation, streamside vegetation and waterways, as well as vegetation on private and public land.
Maintaining habitat for native animals is also critical. It is important to minimise the removal of fallen timber from the environment in order to maximise opportunities for native species to utilise these essential resources. By felling both dead and alive trees you could be chopping down an animal's home. Possums, sugar gliders, bats and many birds roost and nest in the hollows of European and native trees. Leaving hollow logs and trees for creatures and animals provides a safe habitat.
For more information, see Vegetation Removal and check with a local arborist before carrying out any work.