9 – Andrea H.

Hi, my name is Andrea Hartman and I’m a freshman majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I’m from Port Huron, Michigan which is a small town located in the “thumb” of Michigan and it’s on the US/Canadian border. Since I live so close to Lake Huron, most of my hobbies involve being on the lake. I spend most of my summers boating, swimming, or just spending time on the beach. I also spend a majority of my time with my friends and family!

My project for the trip concerns researching how urbanization, mostly in coastal cities, is affecting land use and biodiversity. Currently, over 87% of people in Australia live in cities, and it is projected to increase by 10-20 million people within the next 50 years (Lonsdale and Fuller 122). Coastal regions are home to the highest areas of biodiversity in the country, consequently, the most densely populated cities are also located on coastal regions.

Urbanization threatens native and marine biodiversity because it increases runoff, introduces invasive species, and increases habitat destruction (Gregory and Hall 84). The influx has caused big cities such as Melbourne and Sydney to expand into natural areas, by building on these areas the natural ecosystem is permanently replaced (“Urban Development-Biodiversity 2016”). Habitat destruction in the coastal cities has also caused these regions to have the countries highest number of threatened and endangered species. For example, in Melbourne, 44% of the areas native grasslands were degraded between 1985 and 2005 because of the increase in urbanization (Lonsdale and Fuller 123). Another issue brought on by urbanization is the increase in invasive and non-native species, which are brought in for gardens or as pets, these species account for 72% of environmental weeds that affect biodiversity (“Urban Development-Biodiversity 2016”). Highly urbanized areas have more pollution and runoff, which often leads to habitat fragmentation in these coastal cities, this specifically affects marine ecosystems. It is crucial to protect Australian coastal ecosystems because they are one of the worlds most diverse ecosystems, especially the coasts in Queensland where the Great Barrier Reef is located.

References

Cleugh, Helen. Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia. CSIRO Publishing, 2017.

LsUstFJmxR. “Urban Development.” Australia State of the Environment Report, Australia State of the Environment Report, 8 Nov. 2018, soe.environment.gov.au/theme/biodiversity/topic/2016/urban-development.

Morton, Steve, et al. Biodiversity: Science and Solutions for Australia. CSIRO Publishing, 2014.

Prosser, Ian Philip. Water: Science and Solutions for Australia. CSIRO Publishing, 2011.

Summary 

I had initially planned to do my research on how urbanization affected land use and biodiversity in Australian coastal cities. However, this was too broad and I decided to narrow it down to urbanizations effect on Melbourne’s native grasslands. This project focuses on Melbourne because of the significant amount of grasslands the area has lost. 

Findings

During the first few days of our trip I conducted the majority of my research because we were located in Melbourne. First, I spoke with the ranger at Dandenong Ranges. She eagerly informed me that she and her staffs’ protection and conservation plans are quite successful. They closely monitor the areas biodiversity to maintain thriving ecosystems. Unfortunately, she said the surrounding areas, including native grasslands, have been cleared for subdivision development. Next, we visited the CERES Environmental Park, where I got insight into the inner-city’s affect on grasslands. An expert at the park told me that there is a high demand for city flora because it provides an aesthetic appeal that native grasslands don’t have. He also mentioned that there is no local push or motivation for grassland restoration and that, combined with a lack of space, means that grassland restoration in the city is unlikely. Lastly, we visited the Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Center. This center not only had a piece of land dedicated to native grasslands but also to Eastern Bandicoots. The center is small and has under ten staff members, but the speaker was very educated and knowledgeable about the city’s biodiversity and ecosystem issues. She informed me that the grasslands also suffer from rabbit and fox infestation because they are invasive and can easily target native animals, including the Eastern Bandicoot. Visiting Melbourne was a critical part of my research and it helped me gather information regarding the solution to this problem. 

CERES Environmental Park

About the Region. (2019, January 25). Retrieved from https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/about-the-region

Grasslands. (2005). Retrieved from https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/park-management/environment/ecosystems/grasslands

Group B – Melbourne’s peri-urban grasslands. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/events/stressed-ecosystems-better-decisions-australia’s-future/group-b-–-melbourne’s

History of Victoria’s grasslands. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://bwvp.ecolinc.vic.edu.au/content/history-victoria’s-grasslands

Lancaster, E. (2000). Perameles gunnii (eastern barred bandicoot). Retrieved from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Perameles_gunnii/

McIvor, J. G. (n.d.). Chapter 9 AUSTRALIAN GRASSLANDS. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/y8344e0g.htm

Nationally Threatened Ecological Communities of the Victorian Volcanic Plain: Natural Temperate Grassland & Grassy Eucalypt Woodland. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/grasslands-victoria

Nunez, C. (2019, June 18). Grasslands Information and Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/grasslands/

Nábrádi, A. (2007). The economic value of grassland products. Applied Studies In Agribusiness And Commerce,1(1), 19-28. doi:10.19041/apstract/2007/1/2

Protecting precious grassland fragments. (2012). Retrieved from https://museumsvictoria.com.au/website/melbournemuseum/discoverycentre/wild/victorian-environments/wild-science/protecting-grasslands/index.html

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