Approximately 500,000 hectares of native vegetation remain in the Port Phillip and Western Port region. It covers about 39% of the region’s land area.
Mapping shows the region's vegetation is fragmented into more than 33,000 individual patches. Nearly all the large patches are protected in public land such as parks and conservation reserves. They account for about one-third of the region’s remnant vegetation.
Vegetation quality is also highest in conservation reserves. Quality is generally poorer on private land because of small patch size, loss of understorey and weed invasion. Fragmented patches are vulnerable to continuing weed invasion and incremental damage.
Population growth and associated development will cause continuing vegetation losses in some parts of the region.
Accordingly, this strategy sets targets that aim to:
This strategy also identifies Potential Nature Links. These are parts of the landscape considered to offer major, realistic and highly-valuable opportunities for creating large-scale vegetation corridors and improving landscape connectivity.
Many Nature Links are priority areas for new carbon plantings because they offer opportuities for carbon sequestration as well as benefits for biodiversity and landscape health.
Invasive weeds and climate change are the major barriers to achieving these targets. Weed invasions drive structural declines in native vegetation and damage their habitat qualities. A drier, warmer climate is expected to cause further fragmentation and decline in many vegetation communities and amplify the pressures posed by weeds and increasing fire frequency and intensity.
Some coastal vegetation and wetlands are vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Lead organisations are committed to achieving the targets, and arrangements are in place to monitor and report on progress and success. Targets and leadership arrangements are determined in consultation with relevant departments, agencies and delegated land managers. The native vegetation in this area has been mapped and its condition assessed (Method & Condition).