Natural Disasters

​South Australia is no stranger to 'natural disasters'. Bushfires, severe storms, droughts and flooding are the main offenders, with the potential to cause significant hardship for individuals and communities, and can even result in loss of life.

In most natural systems, floods and fire in particular, can play an important role in maintaining key ecosystem functions and promoting biodiversity. From triggering native plant species recruitment and fauna breeding events, dispersal and migrations, to refilling wetlands and recharging groundwater systems, our ecosystems display some level of resilience to these natural events. However environmental damage can also be considerable in response to the more serious events and following impacts to biodiversity are well recognised.

Severe Storms

  • Loss of hollows and habitat trees
  • Injury and death of wildlife falling from trees (birds, bats, possums, koalas etc)
  • Damage and loss of habitat (nests and hives etc)

Floods

  • Drowning of wildlife caught in flood waters or inundated in dens and burrows
  • Wind/water erosion to creeks and river banks, exposed sites, hill-slopes, and floodplains
  • Excessive deposition of sediment, smothering vegetation and potential habitat
  • Loss of plant species on creek banks
  • Influx of nutrients in creeks, rivers and reservoirs
  • Dispersal of weed species
  • Dispersal of exotic fish species
  • Loss or reduction of wetland function
  • Release of pollutants from flooded sewers etc
  • Erosion of soils and potential loss of already very low levels of nutrients

Bushfires

  • Wildlife death and injury
  • Large-scale loss of habitat
  • Local extinctions of entire populations of plants and animals
  • Displacement of wildlife
  • Increased vulnerability to wildlife from predators, traffic and interaction with humans
  • Increased weed recruitment and promotion of invasive species
  • Exposed soils vulnerable to erosion and potential loss of already very low levels of nutrients

Drought and severe heatwaves

  • Wildlife death
  • Increased vulnerability to stressed wildlife (ie koalas & possums seeking water on the ground)
  • Death and loss of plant species
  • Reduction in plant recruitment
  • Interference/interruptions to wildlife breeding cycles