Biodiversity

Overview

Biodiversity is the term given to the variety of life on earth. Biodiversity 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. 

In the Macedon Ranges, the varying topography, range of altitudes and localised climatic patterns result in rich and unique biodiversity values in the form of many ecosystems, hosting a wide range of native plants and animals. 

Private land holders play a vital role to protecting the biodiversity in the Macedon Ranges. Our Sustainable Land Management page has information on programs that are available to support landholders with our Farm Advisory Service, Caring for Country resource and Property Management Plans. 

Our Biodiversity Strategy has information on Council's guidelines for achieving biodiversity objectives in the Macedon Ranges. Our Environment Strategy is Council's key environmental policy document, guiding work across Council to achieve objectives for climate change, biodiversity, catchment management and resource efficiency.

If you intend to remove native vegetation on your property, you will may need to apply for a permit. Native vegetation includes trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that are local to Victoria and Australia. It can range from farmland with scattered paddock trees, to bushland or treeless areas of scrub or grassland.

Ecosystems of the Macedon Ranges

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 NatureKit website.

Forests

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.

Woodlands

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

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.

Biodiversity Strategy

Council approved the Biodiversity Strategy at its 19 December 2018 Council Meeting. The strategy identifies policy and planning initiatives, as well as priorities for protection, community engagement and processes for monitoring biodiversity.  

The strategy's objectives are to:

  • protect existing biodiversity and native vegetation
  • improve existing biodiversity and native vegetation across public and private land
  • increase the extent of native vegetation cover for connectivity
  • improve Council and the community's understanding and connection to biodiversity
  • enhance the capacity of community groups to undertake conservation activities
  • develop a shire-wide biodiversity monitoring program that assesses the health of the broader ecosystem.

For further information, contact the Environment unit on (03) 5422 0333  or email environment@mrsc.vic.gov.au