Australia’s biodiversity is facing a crisis. Across the country, our native fauna and flora are threatened by habitat destruction, increased predation by feral species, and the pressures of a transforming environment due to the impact of climate change.
Making a difference begins when we make a change. Acknowledging the impact that we, both as individuals and as a society, are having is just one small step.
Here are five ways you can help conserve wildlife and the habitats in which they – and we – live.
Learn about the wildlife in your own backyard
Finding out which species are in your local area is a great place to start. Many species live on the outskirts of the urban fringe and may venture into backyard spaces or close to developed areas.
Learn about the threatened animals and plants that are in your electorate by searching online or joining a local guided tour. Many local councils host wildlife spotlighting tours, guided walks, or information nights.
You could also explore a nearby national park or state park to discover species. Australia has the largest number of national parks in the world, with around 681 parks across all states and territories.
Keep an eye on companion cats
When domestic animals are not responsibly contained, they can cause huge problems to Australia’s natural history. Despite their value as companion animals, cats have had a devastating effect on our native wildlife since they were introduced over 200 years ago.
The impact of pet cats on native wildlife has been widely studied, with estimates that on average, a single cat allowed to roam (even for only part of the day or night) kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year. With a domestic cat population of 3.8 million across the country, they collectively kill 390 million native animals annually.
You can take action to reduce this impact. Securing pet cats indoors and in enclosures (cat containment) will keep them safe from injury and disease, as well as protect native wildlife in your local neighbourhood. If your cat currently roams, you can transition them to a contained lifestyle by following this helpful guide from RSPCA.
Plant native flora in your outdoor space
While Australia is well known for its iconic wildlife, it is also home to more than 24,000 species of native plants. Plants and trees play an integral role in ecosystems, forming a critical base for food chains, enriching soils and providing food and shelter for many wildlife species. Native gardens are a great way to help restore this balance and encourage wildlife and ecosystems to thrive.
Creating a low-maintenance, wildlife-friendly oasis may be as simple as getting your hands dirty and investing in the right plants for where you live. Flowers are great for pollinators, such as native bees and insects, while structural plants such as grasses and shrubs provide ideal habitat for small birds, lizards, or mammals to nest and hide in.
Before you get out the shovel and trowel, make sure to check your local council or nursery to ensure you’re choosing plant species native to your area. Some natives may be considered weeds in other parts of the country and will not be suitable.
Create your own wildlife habitat
The pressures facing native animals have increased dramatically since European settlement. Many species have lost more than 70% of their natural habitat. By offering a safe haven for native animals in your own garden, you can help them hang onto their remaining homelands and stay in our towns and cities.
You don’t need a big backyard to make a difference. Creating a habitat haven is a creative process and there are many ways to create the perfect space using items you might already have at home.
Terracotta pipes are wonderful places for lizards to rest, and old bricks can make a perfect bee or insect hotel. Make your own bee hotel using the instructions here. Nest boxes are the next best thing to a natural tree hollow and can be bought online or built on your own.
Ponds are a great way to attract frogs to your garden, and shallow dishes or bowls provide water (especially during warmer months) for birds and other wildlife – just be sure to put a stick in the water long enough to reach over the lip so that small reptiles and insects can climb out.
Support Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) team of land managers and scientists are based in the field year-round, delivering effective science-informed land management programs and undertaking strategic research to protect Australia’s threatened species. We need your help to continue this important work.
By donating, subscribing to our enews, following us on social media, and spreading the word about AWC’s work, you are helping provide hope for Australia’s wildlife and the habitats in which they live.