Kangaroo Island (KI) lies approximately 15 kilometres off the Fleurieu Peninsula in southern South Australia. The island covers an area of 4,370 square kilometres and is home to approximately 4,400 people who reside primarily in the four townships, the largest being Kingscote. The island welcomes more than 160,000 visitors each year, one third of whom are international guests.
Natural resources underpin a range of industries, with primary production, commercial fishing, and nature-based and farm-based tourism making up around 90% of the gross regional product.
KI contains the highest proportion of remnant vegetation of all South Australian agricultural regions. Around 40% of the island is covered by native vegetation, maintaining significant areas of relatively intact ecosystems.
In 2009, KI was listed as one of Australia’s National Landscapes (a tourism and conservation partnership program between Tourism Australia and Parks Australia) in recognition of its spectacular coastlines, unique geological formations, history and accessibility to viewing unique Australian wildlife in their natural setting.
The region is noted for its abundant wildlife, thanks to relatively few predators and extensive native habitats. Kangaroo Island and its marine waters are home to:
- 18 species of terrestrial mammals
- 255 recorded bird species
- 18 reptile species
- 6 frog species
- 231 recorded fish species
- 5 kinds of seagrass
- up to 600 species of marine algae.
The major threats to natural resources in the region are:
- pest plants and Phytophthora
- pest animals
- over-abundance of problem native animals
- fragmentation of native vegetation
- land degradation
- inappropriate fire regimes
- nutrient pollution of marine environments
- introduced marine pests
- coastal development
- disturbance and destruction of intertidal reefs
- overfishing by both commercial and recreational fishers
- introduced pests from the mainland.
Managing natural resources in the region
Many individuals and organisations share an interest in ecologically sustainable management of KI’s natural resources, including:
Managing natural resources on the island is important and challenging. The region’s residents and visitors use and enjoy the island’s natural resources – some, such as primary producers and tourist operators, depend directly on natural resources for their incomes. Managing our natural resources is about working together to ensure that the needs of the community, industries and the environment are balanced in a way that is sustainable.
With this balance in mind, the vision for natural resources on KI is that they are managed by a capable and engaged community for environmental, economic and social benefit, ensuring a sustainable future for all. To achieve this vision, the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board has worked with the community and stakeholders to develop a regional Natural Resources Management Plan that sets targets for the condition of the environment in the region. NRKI works with the community and industries in the region to deliver programs and projects that aim to achieve these targets.