Biodiversity threats

Reducing the threats to biodiversity in Adelaide and the Park Lands.

The Adelaide Park Lands are the lungs of the city. They are a place where you can relax and have fun. They are also a haven for native plants and animals to live.

A changing climate and natural threats such as weeds and feral animals, as well as the multiple purposes for which the Park Lands is used, all place pressure on the animals and plants that live in our Park Lands.

The City of Adelaide is taking steps to reduce or minimise these threats to our biodiversity in the Park Lands. Find out what we are doing, and how you can help.

Cats and foxes are a major threat to the native animals and birds that call the Adelaide Park Lands home.

Cats are a common choice of pet in suburban neighbourhoods. If allowed to roam, however, domesticated cats can have a devastating effect on native wildlife. Most cat owners are unaware how far their pets roam or how many native animals including birds, reptiles and small mammals are killed by cats. For example, the Cat Tracker project study revealed that the median home-range of a domestic cat is just over a hectare (about 10,400 square metres).

Similarly, foxes can be seen slinking into the shadows of the Park Lands at night. Their taste for native mammals and animals is sadly well known.

What is being done - what can you do?

Unfortunately, a bell around a cat’s neck is not effective at warning a native animal. If you own a cat, the safest way to protect birds, other creatures, is to keep your cat indoors or in an outdoor cat run/enclosure. Fox movements in the Park Lands are being monitored, so if you see a fox, please report it to the Park Lands Ranger on 0407 394 662.

Land clearing for agriculture and urbanisation has been the main cause of species extinction in South Australia. The clearing of trees, vegetation, logs and rocks remove homes for animals that must then either find new areas to live or perish.

Land clearing was rapid and extensive during European colonisation of Adelaide and the Mt Lofty Ranges. Large scale clearing only ceased in 1980, after ninety percent of the original native vegetation had been removed. As a result, many animals have declined in numbers and in some cases are now extinct.

What is being done – what can you do?

Thankfully, large-scale clearing has now ceased, so maintaining existing vegetation and habitat areas is a priority when considering works within the Park Lands. The City of Adelaide has set aside Key Biodiversity Areas to ensure our wildlife has a habitat in which to live. You can help by carefully considering the effects of any work you do in your garden, and the impact it will have on ecosystems. You can also plant local native seedlings or build a bee hotel.

A weed is any plant, from a small herb to a large tree, that experts consider as not belonging in a place. For example, in an area that we are managing as a Mallee Box Woodland, a pine tree or even a non-local species of acacia would be considered a weed. Left to their own devices, weeds have the potential to attract unwanted animals, outcompete native vegetation and leave the natural environment in a degraded state.

What are we doing – what can you do?

The City of Adelaide’s biodiversity team is vigilant about removing Declared Weeds early, as these plants pose a threat to the natural environment, to industry and to public safety. You can learn about Declared Weeds in South Australia and help remove those that you see.

We encourage you to visit Adelaide’s biodiversity areas, to experience the wonder of nature and reap the health benefits that spending time in natural ecosystems provides. When you do, please enjoy these areas in a thoughtful way. Unfortunately, some visitors get a little too eager and stray off paths to take photos or leave litter behind.

What are we doing – what can you do?

The City of Adelaide has built trails throughout many of the Adelaide Park Lands that highlight key biodiversity areas. Some even have interpretive signage. You can help minimise damage to the area by not:

  • riding bikes off the trails - this can bring in weeds and damage plants and the soil microbial layer. Instead, stick to one of the many enjoyable trails available.
  • breaking branches - these are used by birds for perching and damages the tree.
  • pulling up plants or removing trees - this can decrease habitat and food for animals.
  • lighting fires – this can get out of control and destroy habitat.
  • removing dead wood and branches - this can be a habitat for insects, reptiles and small mammals.
  • dumping rubbish or littering - this may have ongoing effects and be toxic to plants and animals.

There is no doubt that interacting with wild animals can be a memorable experience. They're cute and they might seem hungry or in need of your help. However, often is not a good idea to touch or feed them. Whether in your own backyard, a local park, or while jogging, enjoy nature but keep your distance.

What is being done - what can you do?

The City of Adelaide has placed many signs around the Park Lands that shares key information about our wildlife and how to keep both you and your family safe and our animals wild.

Each summer, our staff put out many water bowls / buckets for our wildlife to use across all of our Park Lands. This small gesture may provide a life-saving drink for a local lizard or resident possum.

Many people enjoy living near and watching wildlife. You can help keep animals wild by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Do not feed wild animals - feeding wild animals creates a dependency on humans that diminishes their survival abilities and sometime can lead to aggressive behaviour. Human food is not healthy for wild animals, and they do not need food from people to survive.
  • Do not pick up young birds - it’s not uncommon to see a bird that have not learned to fly yet on the ground, since many species of birds push their feathered young out of the nest to help them become independent. So, the best thing to do is to leave the bird alone as it learns to fly. If the young bird is featherless or injured, though, please contact our Ranger.
  • Do not touch injured animals - human touch can stress wildlife and they can die from stress related illness and sometime animals cannot be released back into the wild because of human contact. Bats, Possum, Koalas and other wild animals can possibly carry diseases and they should never be handled. If you happen to come across one injured animal on the ground, please contact our Ranger.

Contact details

City of Adelaide Park Lands Ranger: 0407 394 662

Customer Centre: 8203 7203