What are heathland ecosystems?
Heathlands are characterised by dense, low shrubs with scattered, twisted trees – a function of the harshness of the environment where they occur.
They support a very high floral diversity, a large number of small mammals and rich bird life. They are widespread in Victoria, particularly near the coast and in the south-west.
- Occur where drainage is poor so distribution is often patchy
- Soils have extremely low levels of nutrients
- Dominated by tough, hard leaved plants and terrestrial orchids - many are rare or threatened in the state.
Fire is a fundamental environmental factor. Fire allows regeneration of many small ground layer species, however fire regimes that are too infrequent or too large in scale pose a major threat to this ecosystem.
Heathlands support more than 80 species of birds and small marsupials such as dunnarts, bandicoots and potoroos and mammals such as the Swamp Rat and New Holland Mouse, which are prone to predation by foxes.
Heathlands are also particularly prone to Phytophthora cinnamomi (a fungal dieback) and invasion by woody native species
Where do I find heathlands?
- Cape Conran Coastal Park
- Wilsons Promontory National Park
- Anglesea Heath
- Grampians National Park
- Jilpanger Nature Conservation Reserve
Find out more
Deptartment of Environment and Primary Industries – Distribution map and information about the different types of heathlands found in Victoria.
23 Sep 2016
A “living fossil” whose lineage dates back more than 300 million years has been found at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park in western Victoria. Tadpole Shrimps (Lepidurus apus viridis) have an intriguing life cycle that can include blowing around in dust for years until they can colonise in temporary puddles. Parks…