Ecosystem connectivity enables the drift of individuals within a species through an environment in order to provide for different aspects of their life cycle or to populate (reproduce) in other areas.
This assists the long-term resilience of representative native communities.
Linkages can be established by movement corridors and/or 'stepping stones' of supporting habitat across the landscape. Distribution requirements are extremely variable for individual species. Some species, like bellbirds, are unable to traverse even leafy suburbs, while skinks, if they can avoid predation, require only a stone wall or single line of plants to move through the landscape. The Criteria for the Identification of Significant Ecological Areas in Auckland (Sawyer & Stanley, 2012), published by Auckland Council, contains guidance on connectivity assessments under the criteria of stepping stones, migration pathways and buffers. Various studies have been undertaken, especially for dispersal of bush birds, providing for the general distances traversable by wildlife (Meurk & Hall, 2006) as shown in Figure 18.
Potential ways that an environmental framework might enable ecosystem connectivity include:
- Protect headwaters, springs and isolated wetlands as a source of invertebrate life and nutrient energy
- Promote revegetation of steep slopes and visible ridgelines for upper catchments, while allowing for potential cross-catchment connections
- Ensure there is sufficient area for self-sustaining wetland and floodplain environments and their associated riparian buffers
- Promote diverse native planting for landscape areas
- Form continuous landscape elements such as intact stream corridors
- Protect, enhance or create an urban forest through the collective planting of parklands and streetscapes
- Protect diverse habitats at the interface of coastal, freshwater and terrestrial environments
- Increase diversity within stormwater infrastructure projects such as wetlands for state highways
- Protect and enhance fish passage, including access to additional habitat such as stormwater wetlands
- Provide flowering plants for pollinators, and a variety of nectar and fruit sources for avifauna and lizards.