Our Park Lands provide a haven for native plants and animals to live in and around our city. Natural pressures such as weeds and feral animals, as well as the varied use of the Park Lands for recreation, business, transport and other activities places pressures on the wildlife that call the Park Lands home.
Continue reading to find out about some of these threats and how we mitigate them below.
In Adelaide, hotter, drier conditions with heavier but unpredictable rainfall events will challenge the ability for many species to survive. The urban heat island effect will exacerbate these difficult conditions, as hard surfaces in cities absorb and then re-radiate heat.
What is Being Done?
Mitigation – reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Solutions to a changing climate will come at local, state, national and international levels. The City of Adelaide is reducing emissions and has a goal to be Carbon Neutral in our own operations by 2020. We also support community, business and industry to reduce emissions and have an ambition for the city to be Carbon Neutral by 2025.
Adaptation – making changes to meet future climate conditions
Climate change is likely to worsen existing pressures on biodiversity, such as weeds, disease and bushfire. Existing management techniques for these pressures will prove invaluable moving forward, but we recognise that these will not be enough to maintain the condition of our natural ecosystems.
Responsive management actions to reduce the effects of climate change on our biodiversity will be informed by the Resilient East Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The goal of Resilient East is to improve the resilience of our communities, assets and infrastructure, local economies and natural environment so they can cope with the inevitable impacts and challenges of climate change.
The plan outlines immediate actions to enhance the ecological resilience of remnant biodiversity, as well as longer term actions to prepare our ecosystems for significant changes in the future. Other council partners in this project include the Cities of Burnside, Campbelltown, Norwood Payneham & St Peters, Prospect, Tea Tree Gully, Unley and the Town of Walkerville.
Photo: Transport is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas in the City of Adelaide, contributing to 35% of emissions in 2015.
If allowed to roam, our furry feline friends can become the adversary of native animals. As many people keep cats as pets in suburban neighbourhoods, domesticated cats can have a devastating effect on native wildlife.
Evidence shows that cat owners are mostly unaware about how far their pets roam or how many native animals are killed by their cats, including birds, reptiles and small mammals. Click here to see an interesting study that reveals urban cat behavior.
Cats have been responsible for the decline and even extinction of animals across Australia, and have been implicated in the disappearance of at least one bird species from the Park Lands, the Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel).
What Can You Do?
As cat owners, the best thing we can do to support the survival of our native wildlife is to keep our cats indoors. Evidence has shown that cat bells are not effective in protecting native wildlife. Instead, tying brightly-coloured material to your cat’s collar can alert native animals to your cat’s presence.
Photo: Roaming cats and foxes can catch and kill native wildlife such as birds, lizards and small mammals. This sculpture can be found in the Community Education Hub in Wirrarninthi.
Have you seen a fox slink into the shadows while driving through the Park Lands at night? These cunning creatures are well known for eating native wildlife and, along with feral cats, have been credited with small mammal extinctions across Australia.
What is Being Done?
Fox sightings in the Park Lands are recorded and monitored to ensure that their population does not threaten the persistence of our local wildlife.
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 removes homes for animals that must then either find new areas to live, or perish.
Land clearing was rapid and extensive during European settlement of Adelaide and the Mt Lofty Ranges. Large scale clearing only ceased in 1980, after having removed ninety-percent of the original native vegetation. As a result, many animals have declined in numbers and in some cases are now extinct.
Photo: Tree hollows are important habitat for many birds and mammals. They can take more than 70 years to form, so habitat like this must be protected in the long term.
What is Being Done?
Although large-scale clearing has now ceased, maintaining existing vegetation and habitat areas is a priority when considering works within the Park Lands. Key Biodiversity Areas have been set aside in our ecosystems to ensure our wildlife has habitat in which to live.
Weed management is one of the most important activities undertaken in our biodiversity sites. Left to their own devices, weeds have the potential to outcompete native vegetation and leave the natural environment in a degraded state.
We are vigilant about removing Declared Weeds early, as these plants pose a threat to the natural environment, to industry and to public safety. Click here to access a list of Declared Weeds in South Australia. (PDF, 2 pages)
What Are Weeds?
A weed is any plant, from a small herb to a large tree, that we consider as not belonging in a place. They may be exotic (from another country) or native (from Australia) but not from the local area. Sometimes weeds do not have a negative effect on the environment, but in many cases they are considered invasive, meaning they threaten the natural function of local ecosystems.
Many weeds were introduced by Europeans in the early days of colonisation, but many more have become weeds as escaped ornamental house plants.
What is Being Done?
Weed removal is one of the main activities undertaken by our horticulture and Biodiversity Teams. This can involve simple removal of plants by hand or bringing in heavy machinery to lift entire trees. An example of an important project is our Woody Weed Removal in Tainmuntilla.
Photo: Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis) is an invasive weed that escaped from suburban gardens, where it was cultivated for its oil and as an ornamental shrub. It is now commonly found along watercourses throughout Adelaide.
We encourage you to visit our 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.
‘Destructive’ activities in nature can threaten normal ecological function and put stress on a system. Some examples of inappropriate use of biodiversity areas are:
- Off-trail biking, which can damage plants and the soil microbial layer. Instead, you can ride on one of the many enjoyable trails we have available throughout the Park Lands
- Breaking branches, which are used by birds for perching and damages the tree
- Pulling up plants or removing trees, which can decrease habitat and food for animals
- Lighting fires, which can get out of control and destroy habitat
- Removing dead wood and branches, which can be habitat for insects, reptiles and small mammals
- Dumping rubbish and littering, which may have ongoing effects and be toxic to plants and animals
Photo: Off-path riding can damage vegetation and disturb the soil microbial crust, which can take years to return.
Pollution results from a range of damaging activities, from accidental spillage of chemicals, to intentional dumping of waste or toxic substances. Even a simple act such as littering in the street is a form of pollution, as this litter may end up in our fragile waterways. As rain and wind moves waste around, our waterways and oceans are especially susceptible to becoming polluted. This can lead to poor water quality, encourage algal blooms and kill wildlife.
What is Being Done?
Bins are placed in public areas for disposal of waste and strict laws exist to discourage dumping of material in the Park Lands, where it can damage natural ecosystems and endanger the public. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to council by calling our Customer Centre on +61 8 8203 7203.
Photo: Even small acts of polluting, such as littering, become larger problems. For example, plastic waste in our precious waterways can kill birds and fish after it is mistaken for food.