Conserving native wildlife and vegetation is important because it help to preserve the diversity of living things, all of which depend in one and other in some large or small way. The wide variety of living things is called "biodiversity". It includes the vast array of different plants from our mosses and ferns to giant, towering trees, the tiniest insect to birds, fish and mammals as well as the microscopic forms of life such as bacteria and fungi. The term also includes the genetic material and habitats of living organisms.
Diverse natural systems are healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems in which all living things play a part.
We rely on this interplay between all living things to give us clean air, fresh drinking water and healthy soils in which to grow our crops. Urban development interferes with this natural balance and may destroy the habitat of many of the organisms in the chain.
While the exact nature of human impact on an ecosystem may take some years to become evident, it is prudent for all of us to consider the conservation of natural systems and local biodiversity in our home and work activities.
Some significant flora and fauna can be found in Ballarat. Miners Rest Wetland contains a population of the endangered, Stiff Groundsel (Senecio behrianus, pictured below), of which there are only five known sites where it is found growing in the wilds. It is also an important site for Lathams Snipe bird (pictured above right), a migratory species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Victoria Park on the wast side of the CBD contains significant remnant indigenous grasslands. Botanical surveys have indicated over 50 indigenous plant varieties across two major sites. The grasslands have been recognised as significant and worthy of protection since 1990.
Ballarat's flora and fauna, including koalas, are natural assets that are important to retain. The City has a number of strategies and planning provisions to protect Ballarat's biodiversity.
There are a range of native plants that have adapted to grow readily in Ballarat's climate conditions. Click here for a list of plants that are native to the Ballarat area.
Some non-indigenous plants can grow too vigorously in Ballarat and become weeds. If these escape into bushland they may compete aggressively and reduce native plant numbers. Blackberry is a common example of an exotic plant that becomes invasive and Fairy Grass is an example of a native plant that can become a nuisance in times of drought and has caused a problem in recent years on Ballarat's dry lake beds.
Similarly, some local native animals are threatened by the destruction of habitat and also by the hunting behaviour of domestic cats and dogs.