The Forest Practices Authority

Biodiversity Program


The endemic Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish is the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world. It is listed as a vulnerable species on both Commonwealth and Tasmanian legislation due to habitat loss and over fishing. Management actions are applied in areas covered by the Tasmanian forest practices system to assist the conservation of this species.

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Wildlife habitat clumps are small patches of trees retained within coupes during harvest operations. They are used predominantly to maintain habitat for hollow-using fauna but are also used for the conservation of other biodiversity values. The Biodiversity Program monitors a sample of WHCs on a five-yearly basis to assess long-term habitat tree retention and fauna-use to provide information on the efficacy of WHCs as a strategy for habitat retention in production forest.

Biological diversity is a concept encompassing the diversity of indigenous species and communities occurring in a given region. Also called 'biodiversity', it includes 'genetic diversity', which reflects the diversity within each species; 'species diversity', which is the variety of species; and 'ecosystem diversity', which is the diversity of different communities formed by living organisms and the relations between them. There are many reasons why people want to conserve biodiversity. Rationales are to be found in the spiritual, ethical, scientific, philosophical, aesthetic and utilitarian arenas, and all of these have their champions. Balanced against this broad acceptance of the need for biodiversity conservation are the real needs of humankind to utilise biological resources for their own sustenance, protection and maintenance.

Tasmania's forests are the repository of a diverse range of species and communities, many of which have received national and international recognition for their uniqueness and visual splendour. The forests contain many different plant communities, over 900 vascular plant species, 131 vertebrate fauna species and several orders of magnitude more species of invertebrates, non vascular plants, fungi and algae. This variety of life-forms reflects the diversity of habitats in Tasmania, which are influenced by large ranges in altitude, water availability and soil fertility. Tasmania has been isolated from the Australian mainland for the past 10 000 years, resulting in Tasmanian biodiversity being distinctly different from that found on the mainland. Many species, like the Tasmanian bettong, burrowing crayfish and celery top pine, are only found in Tasmania. Approximately one third of all invertebrates known in Tasmania are endemic and some groups such as the stag beetles and geometrid moths are of immense biological significance because of their ancient Gondwanan origins and evolutionary links.

The recognition of the diversity and uniqueness of our flora and fauna is one of the major reasons for the listing of Tasmania's Western Wilderness National Parks as a World Heritage Area and also for inclusion of 49% of the state's native forest in conservation reserves. However, it is well recognised that reservation alone will not achieve the conservation of all biodiversity and maintain the natural values of Tasmania. Our state is no different to other parts of Australia in having a long list of species threatened by human activities and other threatening processes. Reservation needs to be combined with conservation management outside of reserves.

Tasmania has a labyrinthine legislative and policy framework for biodiversity conservation. The Tasmanian forest practices system is part of that framework in retaining native vegetation cover and assisting the conservation of biodiversity in the Tasmanian wood production forest environment. The approach adopted considers the ecological/scientific concerns about biodiversity conservation and aims to provide the potential for the elements of Tasmania's biodiversity to survive and continue to evolve in areas covered by the forest practices system. In order to meet this aim, a diverse array of management actions are applied both in forest planning and operations. Monitoring and research is carried out and management actions are adapted as new information becomes available. 

For more information about the planning process carried out by the Biodiversity Program, see the biodiversity evaluation flow diagram. This flow diagram summarises the process that a planner follows when taking account of biodiversity values in the development of a forest practices plan (FPP).

Content last modified September 1, 2015, 11:47 am