Sites of Biodiversity Significance Horizon Scanning

Melbourne Water’s Sites of Biodiversity Significance (SoBS) program has been operating since the 1990s, and now covers 44 sites throughout Greater Melbourne, encompassing approximately 15,667 ha and supporting known biodiversity values of regional to international significance. In 2019 a review of the SoBS program by Alluvium Consulting Australia recommended that a more detailed planning to account for climate change-induced habitat shift was required for the SoBS to continue its contribution to biodiversity function. We were thus engaged to explore how the SoBS program, as part of a state-wide network of protected areas can best protect our region’s native biodiversity in 50 years’ time in the face of climate change and human population growth.

This was a wide-ranging project that required us to primarily assess:

  • Likely habitat shifts over the next 50 years for key vegetation communities given predicted changes in weather patterns, and sea level rise and how these would impact the effectiveness of current regional reserve network,
  • If the current SoBS adequate for the long-term protection of the values for which they were listed
  • Is there other Melbourne Water properties have the potential to help other threatened species?
  • How connectivity across future protected areas will help vulnerable species.

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