Our amazing diversity

Victoria is home to the most diverse collection of landscapes in Australia

These landscapes support a wider range of ecosystems than any area of a similar size in Australia: alpine, mallee, grasslands and grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands and heathy woodlands, inland waters and estuaries, coasts and marine areas (which are made up of even more ecosystems).

Parks are home to over 4,300 native plant species and 948 native animal species. Our ecosystems are a scientific, cultural, spiritual and economic inheritance that is distinctly Victorian, and one that we must conserve and manage for future generations.

Victoria’s ecosystems support an untold number of invertebrates, fungi and algae, more than 12,000 species of marine animals and plants, most of which are found nowhere else in the world, and at least:

  • 3,140 native species of vascular plants
  • 900 lichens
  • 750 mosses and liverworts
  • 111 mammals
  • 447 birds
  • 46 freshwater and 600 marine fish
  • 133 reptiles
  • 33 amphibians

  

This digital story explores how the incredible diversity in Victoria’s living collection managed by Parks Victoria can help us understand climate change. It describes the importance of living and static collections in understanding and preparing for a changing future. 

 

  

Learn about Victoria’s ecosystems

Ecosystems are generally recognised by the characteristic vegetation they support. Victoria’s land area supports a wider range of ecosystems than any area of a similar size in Australia: alpine, mallee, grasslands and grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands and heathy woodlands, inland waters and estuaries, and coasts.

This richness, in the number of different ecosystems and different species, and the genetic variety they exhibit — is what we call biodiversity.

Parks play a crucial role in protecting Victoria’s ecosystems including the numerous habitats, floral and faunal communities and ecosystem services (e.g. clean air, clean water) they support.

Parks protect 93 per cent of Victoria’s native flora species and 86 per cent of native fauna species. Our ecosystems are a scientific, cultural, spiritual and economic inheritance that is distinctly Victorian, and one that we must conserve and manage for future generations.

Victoria’s marine environment is shaped by the high energy cool waters of the Southern Ocean and the relatively calmer, but warmer waters of the south-western Pacific, and have developed independently from other major marine regions of the world. This has resulted in many species being found nowhere else.

A Malleefowl, endemic to Victoria's Mallee region.

Threatened species

A large number of Victoria's native flora and fauna are threatened as a result of past and present land use, the impact of weeds and pest animals and other disturbances.

Alpine ecosystem, Falls Creek, Alpine National Park

The alps

The alps are characterised by granite and sandstone peaks with rounded mountain tops and plateaus and are typically covered in snow for more than a third of the year. The plants and animals that live here have evolved to cope with environmental extremes.

Port Campbell National Park

The coast

Often lashed by the wind laden with salt spray, the coast is very dynamic and a difficult environment for living things, with some of its physical features such as dunes and cliffs subject to continual change.

Grasslands and cloudy sky in the early evening

Grasslands

Less than one per cent of original grasslands remain in Victoria, in small remnant patches with low viability. Grasslands provide important habitat for rare animals which have adapted to changeable environments.

Heathland ecosystem, Cape Conran Coastal Park

Heathlands

Heathlands are characterised by dense, low shrubs with scattered, twisted trees – a function of the harshness of the environment where they occur, where drainage is poor and soils have extremely low levels of nutrients.

Murray Sunset National Park

The mallee

Mallee ecosystems take their name from the small, multi-stemmed eucalypts which feature mallee roots just below the soil surface. They contain a surprisingly diverse range of flora and fauna.

Grey Box Woodland

Dry forests and woodlands

There are many types of dry forests and woodlands occurring across the drier northern slopes of the Great Divide, as well as in Victorian foothills, coasts and plains. They support a wide variety of plants and animals including the state's rarest orchids.

A woman walks through a path at Tarra-Bulga National Park.

Wet forests and rainforest

The cool mountains and gullies in Victoria are dominated by wet eucalypt forests and rainforests. After they're about 150 years old, trees in wet forests begin to develop hollows in trunks and larger branches which provide important habitat for native species.

Wetland, Hattah Kulkyne National Park

Inland waters and wetlands

Victoria has a rich variety of inland and estuarine aquatic environments, including flowing waters such as creeks, streams and rivers; and standing waters such as lakes and wetlands. These waters can be permanent or ephemeral, such as intermittently flooded wetlands and red gum floodplains.

Port Phillip Bay

Marine

The marine ecosystem is the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems and is defined by water that has a high salt content. There are many different habitats within the marine ecosystem which provide all the basic needs for marine organisms to survive.

Virtually explore Victoria’s parks

Virtually explore some of Victoria’s most spectacular places through these 360-degree videos and learn about what makes them unique.
Still image from Diving with Long-nosed Fur Seals at Gabo Island 360 video part 2 video.

Swim with the seals at Gabo Island

Home to the second-tallest lighthouse in Australia, Gabo Island is a place that not many people have had the pleasure of visiting. Even fewer have been lucky enough to get under the water here, and with this 360-degree video you can experience diving here with playful Long-nosed Fur Seals.
Mount Buffalo National Park

Fly over Mount Buffalo National Park

You can almost smell the crisp, fresh air as you watch this 360-degree video showcasing some of the most impressive parts of Mount Buffalo National Park - giant tors, deep gorges, tranquil alpine meadows, tumbling waterfalls, Snow Gum woodlands and spectacular panoramic views of the nearby Alps.
Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park

Fly over the Twelve Apostles

In this 360-degree video you can fly over the Apostles, marvel at the vast Southern Ocean, admire the scrubby coastal vegetation and stare up at the night sky.
Wilsons Promontory National Park

Fly over Wilsons Promontory National Park

In this 360-degree video you can experience the sunrise from the top of Mount Oberon, watch the waves rolling in at Tidal River and fly over some of the most beautiful nature areas in the state.
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