The Otways is a unique region. The area abounds with magnificent tall forests and waterfalls, while the drier forests, heaths and woodlands are rich in species diversity and all are bordered by a spectacular coastline, traversed by the Great Ocean Road. The cool temperate rainforests form remnant pockets of vegetation left over from our Gondwanan ancestry and are a special reminder of our natural history.
The Great Otway National Park was newly formed in 2005 from a merging of neighbouring reserves and combines with the Otway Forest Park to provide a protected area system of over 140 000 hectares. Alongside the beautiful habitats enjoyed by visitors, the Otways contain precious water catchments, designated wild rivers, and pristine reference areas.
The Otways is listed as one of Victoria’s flagship areas for biodiversity conservation and as a biodiversity hotspot (a biologically rich and threatened area). The Otway bioregions are of significant conservation importance with 97 species of rare or threatened plants and 77 rare or threatened species of fauna. These co-habit with iconic Australian species such as Koalas, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Echidnas and Platypus. Amongst its diverse habitats the region includes forests of mountain ash which were recently discovered to be the best in the world at locking up carbon and thus are a critical element in tackling climate change.
Although our work addresses site-specific challenges and management issues, the structure and concepts behind our research and conservation models are broadly applicable and can be adapted to a range of diverse ecosystems and species.