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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exploring Victoria’s protected places
Use the map below to explore our amazing protected places and learn about Victoria’s nine unique ecosystems through a ranger guided virtual tour.
For the best user experience make sure you turn on the narration and ambient sound via the white cog found in the top right-hand corner of the virtual tour.