Background

The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) in NSW will:

'Work with communities and organisations to deliver enhanced landscape connectivity and improved protection and management ecosystems along the 1200 km section of the GER in NSW.'

This will contribute substantially to achieving the broader vision for the GER on a national level:

'The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative brings people and organisations together to protect, link and restore healthy habitats over 3,600 kilometres from Western Victoria through NSW and the ACT to far North Queensland'.

Why develop the GER Initiative?

After more than 200 years of development, the landscape of eastern Australia has changed significantly. Fences, roads, dams, industrial and agricultural lands, powerlines, towns and cities dissect the country, isolating natural areas which have become 'islands' on which plants and animals are isolated, unable to spread or move.

As a result:

  • many interconnected ecosystems have been fragmented and degraded by human activities
  • the landscape's capacity to maintain our unique plants, animals and Aboriginal cultural heritage has been reduced
  • it is harder for ecosystems to filter and clean our air, produce unpolluted fresh water and maintain the health of our soils.

The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative is a bold plan to strengthen the resilience of eastern Australia's mountainous ecosystems so they can better respond to the impacts and threats from:

  • climate change
  • development activities, including ongoing growth in our population 
  • invasion by introduced pests and weeds.

The initiative extends across the eastern ranges which encompass globally significant biodiversity, and catchments critical for eastern Australia's water supplies. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is currently working with over 180 other national, state and regional GER partners to apply the best available science, practical community knowledge and stewardship to conserve and restore connections between landscapes, ecosystems and people.

Who is implementing the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative?

The GER Initiative works at both a whole-of-GER and a regional level, so as to support and empower partners and stakeholders to maintain ownership and be the drivers and deliverers of the GER initiative goals. This model has been effective in harnessing local knowledge, providing the best available scientific information, providing innovative institutional arrangements and assisting people to engage and be involved in achieving the GER vision.

Leadership is provided at two levels:

  • Lead Partners - the Lead Partners provide high level direction, coordination and governance across the GER Initiative, supported by the whole-of-GER team.
  • Facilitators - the Initiative will achieve much of its implementation through regional partnerships coordinated by facilitators, who will provide local leadership to the task of integrating a wide range of existing activities. Facilitators are employed by host organisations, though their role requires them to work closely with, and report to, the members of the regional partnership.

Leadership of the GER Initiative is provided by a group of ‘lead partners’ who provide strategic direction to the initiative. The current lead partners are:

  • Greening Australia (NSW)
  • Nature Conservation Trust of NSW
  • National Parks Association of NSW
  • NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
  • OzGREEN

In December 2011, the NSW Government allocated $4.4 million to support the growth and sustainability of the GER as part of its ‘Green Corridors’ election commitment.

The funding supports a number of community-based habitat restoration and community engagement projects delivered by partnership networks in five existing ‘priority connectivity landscapes’:

  • Border Ranges
  • Hunter Valley
  • Southern Highlands
  • Kosciuszko to Coast (southeast NSW and ACT)
  • Slopes to Summit (southwest slopes)

It also includes funding for new community-based partnerships in two landscapes:

  • Illawarra-Shoalhaven
  • Coffs Harbour (Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance)

Funding of $2.716 million from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Futures Initiative Biodiversity Fund has enabled OEH to establish an eighth landscape partnership in the upper Lachlan catchment as part of the GER - Kanangra Boyd to Wyangala Link.

At 1 January 2014, the GER also involves regional partnerships in Victoria (Central Victoria Biolinks) and Queensland (Sunshine Coast Hinterland Bush Links).

Page last updated: 29 January 2014