Wildlife corridors have become key components in small and large-scale wildlife conservation throughout the world.
Wildlife corridors can be loosely defined as linear habitat whose primary function is to conserve biodiversity by connecting core habitat areas.
We humans have now extensively modified natural landscape on a grand scale. Habitat removal, roads, railways, canals, powerlines, pipelines and fences obstruct wildlife movement. There are still areas that have remained in a more natural, less disturbed state – this may be due to official protection eg national parks or because other factors have prevented or slowed development. As the human population explodes, these patches of natural landscape tend to shrink and become fragmented, isolated islands. When this occurs, the wildlife populations contained in these areas become isolated and the long-term viability of many species declines.
An animal usually occupies and defends a fixed area (its territory) from members of its own species. Young animals, once independent, must disperse away from their home range to establish their own territory and find mates who are not relatives. If this is not possible the genetic diversity of a species declines as the animals become inbred. Wildlife also needs to move in order to migrate, hunt and forage, find water, escape predation or in response to climate/weather changes or natural disasters.
Wildlife corridors permit animals to move to other significant habitat and thus improve the survival rates for individual animals, preserve genetic diversity and increase the ecological value of the core areas.
The demonstrated benefits of linking natural areas has led to wildlife corridors being preserved and created in a coordinated approach to environmental planning known as green infrastructure. Some wildlife corridor projects are massive eg in central Europe a system of corridors and green bridges are planned to connect all the major German National Parks.
However in the absence of designated wildlife corridors animals have had to utilise the remnant and dense vegetation that often exist along railway reserves, hedgerows, stock routes and road verges. The dense vegetation (native, exotic and even weeds), fallen logs, leaf litter and rocks provide concealment, cover and transiting habitat.
Tamborine Mountain is a small-scale reflection of many worldwide fundamental environmental problems such as habitat fragmentation and obstruction. In response, environmental corridors are benefiting local wildlife because most species of wildlife must move, and cannot survive by remaining safely and conveniently, within the boundaries of our National Parks. The environmental corridors, such as the road verge on Witches Chase Road Reserve, should be protected, because they are not only important for the species they may contain, but also because they provide key corridor linkage which can be a lifeline for wildlife.
The Mountain’s wildlife is under increasing pressure – habitat loss, more fences, more domestic predators, more feral predators and busier roads take a daily toll of injured, suffering and dead wildlife. Fortunately most, but obviously not all, residents have a compassionate attitude towards wildlife and are very supportive of our local environmental corridors.
- Written by Nadia O'Carroll