Biodiversity of the Emerald Link
East Gippsland occupies just 9% of Victoria, yet is home to approximately one third of the state’s threatened species. This makes the region extremely important as a sanctuary for their survival.
Victoria has 215 ecological vegetation types, 75 of which are found in East Gippsland — that’s about 35% of all vegetation types packed into just 9% of the state.
East Gippsland exceeds Victoria’s state-wide averages for species composition and numbers of listed threatened species. East Gippsland’s 709 listed threatened species comprise 34% of all listed threatened species in Victoria.
East Gippsland’s staggering diversity is due to the influences of both the southern cool temperate and east coast warm temperate climates, and the region’s many varied land formations, aspects, soils and geology. Warm temperate rainforest thrives in the cool wet gullies of East Gippsland’s lowland forests. These jungle-like rainforests are comprised of ora that evolved from tropical species which over millennia migrated down the coast from the north. These communities create ecological niches that support many species of animals and plants that are absent from or rare in the rest of the state. For many of these species, East Gippsland is the southern limit of their extent.
The Victorian government has identified East Gippsland as a flagship area for biodiversity conservation.13,14 Its abundance of rare flora, fauna and habitats make it an ark of biodiversity where species and ecosystems still remain in a relatively healthy condition. The area is a microcosm of how Victoria looked prior to European arrival—a connected puzzle of special places and icons that form an unbroken corridor from the coast to the alpine regions.
Preservation of these special areas offers a great opportunity to safeguard a future for the region’s biodiversity as a beacon of hope in a world where biodiversity loss is spiralling out of control.
The Victorian government’s biodiversity mapping ranks East Gippsland as making a higher contribution to Victoria’s biodiversity than any other part of the state.15 Protecting areas of East Gippsland is the most effective means of achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes. If Victoria’s biodiversity is a priority, then delivering this vision of protecting the last unbroken wilderness area on mainland Australia is the solution.