Report reveals parks as last chance to protect uniquely WA landscapes
A 4-year investigation into the Create Ranger Parks properties has revealed an extraordinary series of biodiversity hotspots containing a very high number of species of unique plants and animals, many found nowhere else on earth.
The 280-page report, An Extraordinary Natural Legacy, was produced by the Centre for Conservation Geography and was launched in Perth on 14 March 2019 by former UN Ambassador and Federal Environment Minister, Robert Hill AC.
The report's investigation reveals the natural values of 63 former leasehold properties, acquired for conservation by government over the last twenty years but not yet formally part of the conservation reserve system. These properties – in the Mid West, Pilbara and Gascoyne – occupy an area twice the size of our South West, or approximately 5 million hectares.
Although the properties were purchased for conservation over the past twenty years, very little was known about them publicly. The Centre for Conservation Geography's investigation into the properties reveals that these areas represent an unprecedented opportunity to protect some of WA’s most special natural places.
“Our research has revealed that while these properties encompass just 2% of Western Australia, they are home to more than a quarter of all the native terrestrial vertebrate animals that are listed as threatened or conservation priorities,” said report author Dr Carol Booth. “They would also protect 8% of threatened and priority plant species. This represents a remarkable diversity of life.”
“These properties represent a rare opportunity to fill major gaps in the state’s conservation reserve system which will help meet national targets on biodiversity conservation.”
“Many of these nature hotspots represent a perfect opportunity for new national parks – and several represent WA’s only chance to protect uniquely Western Australian ecosystems, with assemblages of plants and animals that are found nowhere else,” Dr Booth said.
The WA Government’s ‘Plan for Our Parks’, announced three weeks ago, flagged nearly half the properties for possible inclusion as new national parks, which would be an extraordinary legacy for future generations. This report confirms that the government is on the right track in expanding WA’s national parks.
In particular, these properties represent a remarkable return-on-investment for nature and for Western Australians in the form of new tourism destinations, new jobs and guaranteeing the protection of our unique natural places.
The report highlights the richness of opportunity to not only protect uniquely Western Australian ecosystems, but also to bolster one of WA’s greatest tourism attractions – our national parks.
The places investigated in the report include:
- Unprotected areas of the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay, home to more than 100 threatened or priority species. These areas have been flagged for possible protection in the Government’s ‘Plan for Our Parks’, and could enable the creation of a 1.2 million hectare ‘Oceans to Outback’ corridor.
- The Tallering Botanical Trail has 3 proposed parks with amazing floral diversity. Only 5 hours from Perth, Tallering represents an opportunity for new parks that would enhance wildflower tourism.
- Fortescue Marsh wetland is one of the most important natural places in the Pilbara but unknown compared to the nearby Karijini. The ancient rock landscape underpins a globally important waterbird habitat and unique biodiversity hotspot, home to the critically endangered night parrot and vulnerable bilbies.