Backyard Habitats

Stepping stones for plants and animals

Connecting nature

Plants and animals need access to many different things to survive. Animals need to be able to find homes, food, water and other animals to mate with. Similarly, plants need to be able to distribute their pollen and spread their seed. Every animal and plant needs different things to survive and has different ways of reaching them. For example, some birds can fly long distances to hunt for small animals, while others hop around in a small area looking for seeds.

Connectivity is the idea that plants and animals are connected to all the things they need in order to survive. If they lose these connections, plants or animals become isolated and their habitat is considered fragmented.

Dividing the landscape

As our urban areas expand, backyards, roads and other infrastructure can interrupt these important connections, leaving plants and animals unable to access everything they need to survive. This can lead to changes in populations, often making them too large or too small for the area.

Fragmented populations are more vulnerable to disturbances such as fire, weeds and roaming pets. These changes can result in unhealthy and unviable environments.

As our urban areas grow, it is important to ensure our parks and reserves do not become further isolated from each other so that our local plants and animals can continue to move across the whole landscape.

What can I do?

  • Plant native species in your garden and nature strip. Birds and animals will be able to travel more easily through your property and find valuable food and homes. Try to use plants that are local to your area – these can be a great source of seed or cross-pollination for your local park or reserve.
  • Place logs, rocks and spiky native bushes around your garden to shelter small animals from harsh weather and predators. If you have a damp patch you might also consider building a frog pond.
  • Set up bird baths and nesting boxes in your backyard for birds and animals to use
  • Don’t let your cat or dog roam around your front yard or nature strip. Pets will scare or hunt birds and animals that use your garden as a home or as a stepping stone to other areas.