Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Murray Darling Depression - conservation status analysis

This page shows the conservation status of the bioregion, based on protection of landscapes within formal conservation management mechanisms.

Landscape-scale conservation

The Murray Darling Depression Bioregion is composed of 74 landscapes (Mitchell in prep). Nine landscapes are endemic to the bioregion: Ivanhoe-Nangara Fresh Lakes and Swamps, Ivanhoe-Nangara Isolated Bedrock, Ivanhoe-Nangara Relic Lakes, Lower Darling Salt Lakes and Playas, Mallee Cliffs Relic Lakes, Mallee Cliffs Salt Lakes and Playas, Mungo-Marona Dunes, Sayers Lake Complex and Scotia Dunes.

The size of these landscapes varies from the Barnato Linear Dunes landscape, which occupies the smallest area of the bioregion (76.31 hectares or 0.0010 per cent), to the largest, the Ivanhoe-Nangara Sandplains landscape, which occupies 29.87 per cent (2,397,272 ha) of the bioregion. The majority of landscapes (59 out of 74) occupy less than 1 per cent of the bioregional area.

Landscapes in the Murray Darling Depression Bioregion are not comprehensively reserved, with only one of 74 achieving representation in the reserve system, which occupies about 20 per cent of the bioregion. This is the Gilgunnia-Broken Ranges landscape and the area reserved is in fact very small at only 20.87 hectares (19.44 per cent of the landscape). Only 3 landscapes achieve a combined (all surveyed mechanisms accounted for) conservation status of greater than 20 per cent. These are:

  • the Scotia Dunes landscape with 30.63 per cent of its bioregional area;
  • the Waranary-Yathong Ranges landscape with 21.13 per cent of its bioregional area; and
  • the Lower Darling Lakes and Swamps landscape with 31.85 per cent of its bioregional area.

Three of the 7 landscapes that are endemic to the bioregion are minimally represented in reserves. These are the Ivanhoe-Nangara Fresh Lakes and Swamps, Ivanhoe-Nangara Isolated Bedrock and Mungo-Marona Dunes.

The impact of clearing on some individual landscapes has been high, with over 50 per cent of 8 landscapes cleared of their native canopy and only 2 of these minimally reserved. Almost a quarter of the area of one of the endemic landscapes is cleared and it is not reserved.

National parks and nature reserves

Only 22 of the 74 landscapes of the bioregion are represented in the system of national parks and nature reserves. Only one landscape, the Waranary-Yathong Ranges landscape, is more than 20 per cent reserved. A small area of the Gilgunnia-Broken Ranges landscape (20.87 ha) gives it a reservation status of 19.44 per cent.

Two of the 9 endemic landscapes, Mungo Marona Linear Dunes (minimally, at 1.17 per cent) and Ivanhoe-Nangara Fresh Lakes and Swamps (3.35 per cent), are represented in reserves.

Wildlife refuges

Nineteen of the 74 landscapes occur in the 9 wildlife refuges in the bioregion. A significant proportion of 2 landscapes, the Lower Darling Lakes and Swamps landscape (with 6,814.52 hectares or 31.85 per cent of its bioregional area) and the Scotia Dunes landscape at 30.63 per cent (19,708.68 ha), occur in wildlife refuges. The latter landscape is endemic to the bioregion. Nine landscapes not represented in reserves or flora reserves can be found in the wildlife refuges of the bioregion. These are:

  • the Mid Darling Lakes and Swamps with 34.03 hectares or 0.40 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Mt Grenfell Complex with 109.15 hectares or 1.43 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Bokara Hills with 310.42 hectares or 2.14 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Mid Darling Alluvial Plains with 1518.01 hectares or 9.61 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Lower Darling Channels and Floodplain with 2074.59 hectares or 4.98 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Lower Darling Alluvial Plains with 4606.64 hectares or 4.73 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Scotia Groundwater Basins with 5439.98 hectares or 8.93 per cent of the landscape;
  • the Lower Darling Lakes and Swamps with 6814.52 hectares or 31.85 per cent of the landscape; and
  • the Scotia Dunes with 19708.68 hectares or 30.63 per cent of the landscape.

Flora reserves

Two landscapes (the Murrumbidgee Channels and Floodplains landscape with 31.15 hectares or 0.32 per cent of the landscape and the Murray Channels and Floodplains landscape with 45.30 hectares or 0.48 per cent of the landscape) are represented in the Peacock Creek Flora Reserve. Although the Murray Channels and Floodplains landscape is included in the wildlife refuge program, it is not included in the national park and nature reserve system.

Conservation and clearing

A relatively small proportion of the bioregion is indicated as being cleared of its native canopy vegetation. Some 539,200 hectares or 6.72 per cent of the bioregion has experienced this form of clearing (other forms of clearing are not yet detectable at the state scale).

Although a relatively small proportion of the bioregion is cleared, it has been spread across more than half of the landscapes. Six landscapes - the Murrumbidgee Sandplains, Lachlan Sandplains, Murrumbidgee Depression Plains, Cocoparra Ranges and Footslopes, Murrumbidgee Lakes, Swamps and Lunettes and the Murray Sandplains landscapes - have experienced extreme clearing with between 70 and 99 per cent of their area cleared.

An additional 2 landscapes - the Murrumbidgee Scalded Plains and the Lachlan Depression Plains landscapes - have been highly cleared, with between 50 and 70 per cent of the landscape cleared. Three landscapes have between 30 and 50 per cent of their bioregional area cleared. These are the Scotts Craig Hills, Shepherds Hill and Footslopes and the Lachlan Channels and Floodplains landscapes.

Of those highly to extremely cleared landscapes, 3 are represented in national parks and nature reserves - the Scotts Craig Hills, Lachlan Channels and Floodplains and Lachlan Sandplains landscapes. The Lachlan Channels and Floodplains is also represented in wildlife refuges. Landscapes lacking at least minimal representation in high security conservation zones (national parks, nature reserves and flora reserves) are a priority for conservation. The remaining vegetated areas of highly cleared landscapes are a priority for conservation action, including restoration, particularly if further clearing occurs in the unprotected areas of these landscapes.

Page last updated: 26 April 2016