‘Biodiversity’ means the bush. Look up to the north of Riddell—those low hills cloaked in trees and remnant grasslands, and sometimes in cloud—that green stuff is biodiversity. The ‘diversity’ part of the word reminds us that the diversity of plant and animal relationships is what matters. Each species is interdependent with the other plants and animals that live there. That interdependence is life, just as much as each individual plant or animal.
So there’s diversity in each ecological system. The other meaning of biodiversity is the diversity of ecological systems. In each part of the landscape, a mix of plants and animals develop to make the most of the soil, slope, weather, and light. Macedon Ranges has variety in its landform, so many slightly different ecologies develop. We live in a biodiverse part of the world.
‘Biodiversity’ is a word that gets used a lot nowadays. When the term first can into use 20 years ago, it sounded strange to my ears. Bio-divers-ity It’s a made-up word, unfamiliar at first, but if that’s what ecologists and government want to call it, well and good, and now it rolls of the tongue.
And now Macedon Ranges Shire Council is doing a ‘Biodiversity Strategy’. The Riddells Creek Landcare committee sat down with the maps the Shire sent us, to answer three simple questions - where was biodiversity in good condition? where was biodiversity present but needing to be strengthened? and what action was needed?
Here’s what we decided. The really good stuff is Barrm Birrm (north of Gap Road, unprotected), the existing reserves - Mt Charlie, Mt Teneriffe, T-Hill Reserve, Sandy Creek Reserve, and Conglomerate Gully. The reserves are all legally protected, though the zoning for Sandy Creek Reserve might be weak. Barrm Birrm isn’t protected as a reserve – it’s open season every day of the year. All of these areas suffer from weeds blowing in, birding in or getting horsed in.
The rail reserves and along road reserves of Amess, Sutherlands, Gap and Sandy Creek Roads, damaged by weeds and careless graders and excavators, remain nonetheless corridors for wildlife to move. It is okay but needs to be built up, and the same goes for the creeks—Sandy Creek and Riddells Creek. Melbourne Water gives financial help to people living along these creeks to get rid of weeds, and replant, and the condition of streamsides and of the creeks themselves is improving, we think, or at least not getting worse. BTW, if you’re on a creek and want to fix it up, phone Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage program.
We wrote all this down and sent it off to the Shire, along with the actions; for the creeks and roadsides, weed control and replanting; for the reserves of bush (that really good stuff), consistent weed control, and more control of the humans.
Ah the humans—now there’s a challenge! Greedy, self-centred humans, doing what they want without thinking about the rest of the living world. A fence, a sign, a strategy, a pamphlet do a little, and better signage in particular would educate people about what’s around. That's the Shire's role, and that's what it is equipped for in terms of its powers.
But in Landcare we have different powers, and our tool of choice is friendship. If you get together with others in a friendly way, you can do a lot, and learn a lot, and enjoy a lot. Talk with us at the Farmers Market. Ask to go on our mailing list to hear about talks, walks and working bees here in Riddells, and tucked into all those other biodiverse landscapes of the Macedon Ranges.
Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare, email@example.com