With more than 1000 hectors at Monarto Zoo has more than 1000 hectors providing an opportunity to save species from extinction by utilsing the land to protect biodiversity. The first stage of the Monarto Restoration Project is focused on removing pest species, restoring and building habitat and re-introducing native species.
The zoo hopes to give people a glimpse of what the Murray Mallee used to be like by restoring and expand its habitat to represent what used to exist in the Monarto region. This will show people what we have lost and teach them with practical conservation techniques they can apply in their own backyard. The vegetation communities at Monarto are quite unique as they occur at the crossover of the Mt Lofty Ranges and Murray Mallee regions.
Monarto has the largest remnant of this ‘crossover’ habitat that exists along the edge of the Mt Lofty Ranges.
While the remnant habitat provides an important refuge for a broad range of threatened plant and bird species, we have lost a lot of other species such as mallee-fowl, bilbies, numbats etc. In fact, the bush here used to be teaming with wildlife, at least 20 mammal species (with only echidnas and brush-tailed possums remaining now) and even more bird species. Historical records suggest that you could trip over bilbies and bettongs and see mallee fowl nests regularly.
As is fairly typical in agricultural regions, the remnant habitat at Monarto is only found on rocky outcrops, not on the sand and loam, which is better for farming. This clearance pattern has left only a subset of the original habitat and so our remnant vegetation is limited in its ability to support the whole range of native species that used to exist in the region. In addition, the existing remnant has been degraded as a result of over grazing by rabbits and kangaroos, weeds and soil disturbance. These pressures have prevented the re-generation of many native plant species still holding on at Monarto and led to the loss of others. The restoration program is designed to expand habitat onto the good soils and restore and protect the missing plant species and habitat structures.
On a broader perspective, our property exists in the centre of a group of properties that are also protecting remnant vegetation, Rocky Gully Reserve is on our eastern boundary and Monarto and Ferris McDonald Conservation Parks are to the south. These neighbouring remnants provide the opportunity to expand, restore and connect habitat not just in Monarto but in the surrounding region.