Although the Commuting Hills has large areas of native vegetation, land-use changes on private and public land (described above) need to be managed and monitored. Native vegetation ecosystem services (and threshold parameters to be managed) include:
• biodiversity habitat (quality, patch sizes and corridor widths)
• clean water (riparian buffer widths)
• natural amenity (patterns of native vegetation).
Extreme climate variability has resulted in drought, fires and floods over the last decade, impacting on this area long after the event. This is exacerbating the impacts of land-use change and is placing an additional burden on rural communities, several of which have been stretched to breaking point.
Increased frequency of bushfires and drought, resulting from extreme climate variability, and planned fires are significant additional threats to aquatic biodiversity habitat and water quality (through increased soil erosion) and to terrestrial biodiversity habitat (loss of structural diversity).
The spread of urban populations and the resulting development also need to be considered in the context of bushfires and floods so that economic and social values are not significantly impacted.