Protecting threatened species in safe havens

Project start date: 01/07/2022
Project end date: 31/06/2024
NESP funding: $51,000 (GST-exclusive)

This project is assessing the current safe-haven network, which is designed to protect predator-susceptible species, especially threatened species, by fencing areas or removing predators from islands. This project will update the spatial prioritisation of safe havens and incorporate climate change into prioritising locations for new safe havens.

Climate change is further endangering many of Australia’s threatened animals. As climatic conditions change across the existing safe-haven network, where species are found within the network may also change.

Establishing new safe havens that account for shifts in species distributions under climate change is one way to protect threatened species from this increasing pressure. Safe havens can be islands, such as Faure Island in Western Australia, where predators have been removed. They can also be fenced areas, such as peninsulas (e.g. Kangaroo Island Peninsula in South Australia), which use the coastline as part of the barrier. Other safe havens include national parks, sanctuaries run by state and territory governments, and private land conservation estates, such as Scotia Sanctuary or Aussie Ark.

This project will map the ranges of non-mammal species (birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) currently protected in these safe havens and identify how they might shift as the climate changes. This information will be prioritised in the establishment of new safe havens, ensuring that they maximise the number of at-risk species that are protected and complement the existing safe-haven network

Key research areas

To address the challenge of increasing climate-related pressures on Australia’s threatened species, this project is:

  • collating range maps for priority birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish protected within the existing safe-haven network and, where possible, collating range maps of species distribution shifts due to climate change
  • mapping current and proposed safe havens in Australia and considering regions and land uses where safe havens cannot be established
  • identifying regions for new safe havens by combining species range maps with a map of the existing safe-haven network, prioritising the protection of species affected by climate change.
  • Matt Hayward walks along the fence line of a feral animal exclosure. Photo: Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Places like Kangaroo Island can also function as safe havens. Photo: Greg/Adobe Stock.
  • Determining the biological attributes (e.g. burrowing, home range, flight capabilities etc) is an important step to determine species best suited for protection in safe havens. Photo: Avril/Adobe Stock.