- Published on Friday, 09 September 2005 08:00
Conserving biodiversity threatened with extinction or destruction is a key role of the department.
|Lake Richmond- Thrombolite like microbialite community of coastal freshwater lakes.|
What are the three main elements of biodiversity?
The three main elements of biodiversity are genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. Modern biodiversity conservation strategies are aimed at conserving all these elements. Threatened biodiversity conservation strategies were traditionally aimed at species, however, species conservation now includes consideration of genetic diversity, and the interaction of species is accounted through ecological community conservation.
What are ecological communities?
Ecological communities are defined as naturally occurring biological assemblages that occur in a particular type of habitat. They are the sum of species within an ecosystem and, as a whole, they provide many of the processes which support specific ecosystems and provide 'ecological services'. Ecosystems are much more than the sum of their parts. The myriad of interactions between their component species provides an important third level of biological diversity in addition to those of genes and species.
|Banksia attenuata woodland over species rich dense shrublands (SCP20a)|
How are ecological communities managed?
Because ecosystems and the links between their community members are so complex, it is impossible to maintain their components on a species by species basis. While it is important to manage individual threatened species of animals and plants, we cannot give the same individual attention as we do to vertebrates and vascular plants to the many thousands of species of invertebrates, non-vascular plants and micro-organisms. To conserve these components of biological diversity, we need to identify, maintain and manage whole ecosystems, their processes and communities. Further, it is more cost-effective and efficient to prevent species becoming threatened by conserving them as part of viable, functioning communities than it is to attempt to manage individual species.
Is there a list of threatened ecological communities?
Yes, the department has been identifying and informally listing threatened ecological communities (TECs) since 1994. As of March 2009, 316 ecological communities had been entered into the department's TEC database. 69 of these have been endorsed by the Environment Minister as follows: 21 as critically endangered, 17 as endangered, 28 as vulnerable, and three as presumed totally destroyed. The remainder are allocated to one of five priority categories. Ecological communities with insufficient information available to be considered a TEC, or which are rare but not currently threatened, are placed on the Priority list and referred to as priority ecological communities (PECs).
Do ecological communities have Recovery Plans?
Yes, as is the case for species, the department, with the help of community groups and local people, develop and implement Recovery Plans and Interim Recovery Plans for TECs.
To better inform people about TECs, the department produces a series of Threatened ecological communities posters. The posters briefly describe a community and what needs to be done to conserve it.
For distributional data on threatened ecological communities see the Threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities data web page.
Further information about TECs and PECs can be obtained by email from DEC's Species and Communities Branch.
South West Catchment Council, in conjunction with DEC has produced a booklet on south west TECs entitled ‘Glimpses into disappearing landscapes. Nationally Listed Threatened Ecological Communities of the South West Region’. The booklet visually captures eight communities of the South West region and the importance of protecting them.