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Priority landscapes

Our climate-ready reboot – Phase 1

Through research, climate modelling and analysis, we've identified the landscapes where we can make the biggest difference.

We first established our priority landscapes in 2016 to help focus our work on areas of Australia under-represented in the National Reserve System and where our particular skills could be best applied to address the threats to those habitats.

In 2021, we updated our knowledge of habitat condition, levels of protection and the likely threats to these areas. We added an overlay of expected climate change impacts, areas of resilience and factors that would add to resilience or vulnerability in the coming decades.

We relied heavily on published research, data from our partners at CSIRO, DAWE and other national datasets to understand the extent of ecological change our landscapes are likely to experience.

We assessed where refugia were likely to be important in protecting biodiversity into the future, and where we have new and important opportunities to protect and manage thriving landscapes for decades to come. To see more on this work visit ConservationFutures.org.au.

This work led to assigning three categories to our Priority Landscapes, that influence how we work in each area:

1. Resilient landscapes

Large, intact areas of high conservation value that could be highly adaptable to climate change. Here we’ll prioritise large reserve acquisitions and/or working in partnerships with Aboriginal groups or the farming community.

2. Reconnection landscapes

Fragmented landscapes, likely to see moderate to medium impacts of climate change where reconnection and active restoration will be important to building resilience. We'll buy, restore and work in partnership with others across these areas.

3. Strengthen landscapes

In the coming decades, these landscapes may experience significant transition. We'll collaborate with Traditional Owners and academics to innovate, invest and bring new tools to mitigate expanding threats and explore opportunities to shore up existing properties.

Map of our priority landscapes.
Collaboration is key to the way Bush Heritage works. We're proud to be a partner of choice for many Aboriginal groups and benefit from strong partnerships with the Traditional Owners of our reserves. This collaborative focus is expanding to work with farmers.

Agriculture represents between 50% and 90% of the land use across our priority landscapes, so building partnerships with farmers and landowners will be critical. This may vary from supporting biodiverse carbon capture in resilient landscapes, supporting stewardship of remnant vegetation in reconnection landscapes or sharing our knowledge in strengthening landscapes experiencing increased climate stress.

Resilient landscapes

Characterised by large, intact areas in good condition, with significant refugia potential and strong opportunities to have conservation impact for decades to come. A focus here will be to expand into new areas, monitor closely for any changes in landscape function and increase investment in our current expertise in managing the threats to habitats and species.

In some of these areas, working in partnership with Aboriginal people or like-minded farmers is a more appropriate way for us to help drive conservation impact than direct acquisition.

Carnarvon Reserve, in the Brigalow Belt bioregion, is well placed. Photo Cathy Zwick.

Reconnection landscapes

These Landscapes have the potential for building resilience by reconnecting large, functioning areas of native habitat through land purchase and restoration. Restoration efforts will be ‘future focused’, aiming for improved resilience to extreme environmental conditions including drought and fire as landscapes experience warmer, drier conditions.

Work here will need a new approach to combining knowledge systems, gaining a greater level of insight, planning, collaboration and investment to protect, rebuild and manage contiguous, biodiverse landscapes.

Fragmented natural areas in south-west WA. Photo GreenSkills.

Strengthen landscapes

These areas are expected to experience significant change as a result of climate change, with considerable impacts on our targets, and a strong need for new ways of thinking, preparing and managing the opportunities to protect and enhance refugia, facilitate functional transition of habitats and provide safe harbour for the species in our landscapes.

Existing properties in these areas will need extra investment and innovation to maintain structure and biodiversity. We'll look to support existing reserves by assessing nearby properties for their capacity to build resilience, provide refuge, protect declining habitats and secure protected areas in the direction of movement.

Dr Matt Appleby with seedlings to use in the Climate Ready Revegetation project at Nardoo Hills. Photo Amelia Caddy.

For more information on this work, contact Rebecca Spindler (Executive Manager Science and Conservation).