5 important South Australian natural landscapes you may not have heard about
02 June 2022
World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June, a good time to draw attention to some of our less well known natural ecosystems and what is being done to help them along. Chances are that you may have travelled through these areas without realising their important environmental value.
Landscape boards are working with their communities across the state to protect threatened landscapes and their inhabitants. Here are five important natural landscapes you may not have heard about:
1. Iron-grass natural temperate grasslands – Murraylands and Riverland
The iron-grass natural temperate grasslands (INTG) of South Australia are listed as critically endangered with only a few small areas remaining.
These grasslands are a community of plants dominated by grasses and have no or few trees and tall shrubs.
They are highly diverse with a mix of grasses plus a range of wildflowers including herbs, lilies, orchids and small shrubs – a high-quality grassland can be as diverse as a rainforest.
Find out more about what’s happening to conserve this important grassland.
2. Temperate coastal salt marsh – Eyre Peninsula
Lying along Eyre Peninsula’s 3,292km coastline are areas of temperate coastal saltmarsh under increasing threat of degradation.
These saltmarshes are listed as a nationally Threatened Ecological Community and are home to a small threatened bird known as the hooded plover.
Coastal saltmarshes play a vital role in protecting our shorelines, act as blue-carbon sinks, and are important fish nurseries and bird habitat.
A range of Landcare actions are taking place to protect and improve these threatened saltmarsh communities
3.Malkumba-Coongie Lakes – South Australian Arid Lands
Malkumba-Coongie Lakes, located near the town of Innamincka in the South Australian outback, is renowned for its natural beauty as well as a diverse patchwork of channels, waterholes, lakes, floodplains and its significance as a refuge for migratory birds.
Between December and April annually, millions of migratory birds make the journey to the lakes – some travelling up to 25,000 km – to take advantage of the wetland habitat to feed, rest and breed.
The area includes dryland dunefield and gibber plains habitats which support threatened species such as the Australian painted snipe, curlew sandpiper, dusky hopping mouse, plains mouse, kowari, crest-tailed mulgara and the night parrot.
In recognition of the area’s ecological significance, Coongie Wetlands and Cooper Creek are protected under an internationally recognised Ramsar agreement.
4. Swamps of the Fleurieu Peninsula – Hills and Fleurieu
The Swamps of the Fleurieu Peninsula (Fleurieu swamps) are a critically endangered ecological community, found only in the Hills and Fleurieu region.
They are characterised by their reedy or heathy vegetation, and occur along low-lying creeks and flats in the catchment areas of Tookayerta, Hindmarsh, Parawa, Myponga, Yankalilla, Currency Creek and Finniss.
They support critically endangered flora and fauna, including the Mount Lofty Ranges southern emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus intermedius), and Fleurieu leek orchid (Prasophyllum murfetii).
Fleurieu swamps have cultural significance for the Warki, Ramindjeri and Ngarrindjeri people who have worked with the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board to restore aboriginal knowledge and values into the conservation and management of the swamps around Yundi.
Less than 4% of the Fleurieu Swamps remain, so their protection and conservation is vital to maintaining biodiversity across the Fleurieu Peninsula. Find out more about the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s biodiversity conservation strategies here.
5. Southern Yorke Peninsula – Northern and Yorke
On southern Yorke Peninsula, Narungga land, an ambitious rewilding project is returning locally-extinct native animals that previously played an important role in the functioning of this unique coastal ecosystem.
By bringing these species back, their activities will help improve the health of the soil, the surrounding vegetation and ultimately the entire habitat.
Nationally endangered brush-tailed bettongs were the first species reintroduced last year because of their status as soil engineers.
They turn over the soil at night as they forage for fungi and this digging action helps to aerate the soil, improve water infiltration, cycle nutrients and spread seed for new plant growth.