South Western Australia: One of Top 34 Biodiversity Hotspots

I went for a bushwalk with a friend yesterday. She is an environmentalist. She pointed out the birdlife on the wetlands. We used binoculars, it was my first time bird watching. I was fascinated by the diversity and quite excited to learn the names of the birds. We talked a little about the reported duck shooting in Victoria and just cannot imagine that type of consciousness that gets a thrill out of killing. Here we were gently appreciating the natural world. For me it is a vista that is opening up as I realise my true connection to the planet. There appears so many amazing habitats here and very different from the East Coast of Australia (where I am from). I am just beginning to dawn my awareness of the incredible wildlife around me and my responsibility as a steward. My friend demonstrated her stewardship quietly in Albany just picking up rubbish that kids and adults just chucked with no awareness of respect. I liked the way she was just being responsible.

Below is a website I found. It is about non government groups working together toprotect the environment and preserve biodiversity. They are the unsung heroes getting on with it.

I am sensing that this is an ancient land. My environmental friend assures me it has been transformed by human settlement, certainly reading below 2/3rds of vegetation have been cleared. There may be remnants that can be revived, I am assuming (I am not expert though).

The whole planet is under pressure so the work of many small groups working together, may just tip the balance in favour of sustainability as a reality or help us to learn how to live in balance with nature, to learn from past mistakes.

http://www.gondwanalink.org/index.html

GONDWANA LINK

South-western Australia is an amazing place. It is one of the world’s top 34 biodiversity hotspots “where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat”.

Gondwana Link is a landscape scale vision involving individuals and local, regional and national groups. We are working together to achieve reconnected country across south-western Australia in which entire ecosystems, and the fundamental ecological processes that underpin them, are restored and maintained.

Gondwana Link groups are:

restoring ecological connectivity across south-western Australia, from the woodlands of the drier interior to the tall wet forests in the far south-west corner;
protecting and re-planting bushland over more than 1,000 kilometres; and
building a living link that reaches eastward across the continent.

THE GONDWANA LINK VISION IS Gondwana Link Home

‘Reconnected country across south-western Australia, from the karri forest of the SW corner to the woodlands and mallee bordering the Nullarbor plain, in which ecosystem function and biodiversity are restored and maintained’.

The greatest threat facing the remaining ecological wonders of south-western Australia is fragmentation. The era when agricultural clearing destroyed large areas of biodiversity is over, but in the agricultural areas even the largest areas of bush are mere remnants – isolated from each other with species unable to move across ecologically hostile agricultural landscapes, and the key ecological processes shattered.

Two-thirds of the vegetation in south–western Australia has been cleared. Over much of what is now called “the wheatbelt” many areas have less than 5-10% of their original bushland left. Yet these landscapes have proved very fragile under farming. It is now recognised that 30-40% of agricultural Western Australia needs replanting to deep rooted trees and shrubs. Otherwise over 6 million hectares will be severely damaged by dryland salinity.

Clearing was the first wave of destruction – fragmentation, salinity and climate change are driving a second wave.

But in one part of south-western Australia the basic ecological connectivity that enabled the proliferation of the south-west’s biological magnificence can be at least partially restored, slowing salinity and other degradation at the same time.

The satellite photo shows us what can be achieved. The five largest areas of biodiversity left in the entire south-west are along the south coast. One connection remains through to inland Australia, via a massive 6-7 million hectare area of public land saved from the spread of agriculture in the early 1980’s.

GROUPS WORKING TOGETHER Gondwana Link Home

Building the Gondwana Link is a huge task, requiring a range of skills and resources. A number of non-government groups are leading the work to meet this challenge.

Each group has a long and distinguished record of achievement in environmental protection and management. Through our wide range of work experiences and interests, we’ve each acquired particular skills and agreed to take on specific tasks along the Link. As well as building on each group’s strength, this integrated approach minimises duplication.

We have a simple working arrangement whereby each group continues its core work but looks for opportunities to collaborate with other groups so that progress can be accelerated. This arrangement rests on the strong working relationship we have built. We’re in regular contact and meet regularly to plan and coordinate activities and celebrate successes.

Check us out on our individual websites below:

Bush Heritage Australia

Bush Heritage Australia acquires – by purchase, gift and bequest – land and water of outstanding ecological significance to preserve as the nation’s heritage. These areas are managed to protect and enhance their natural values. Funds are raised by tax-deductible donations from the public and funding organisations.

Fitzgerald Biosphere Group

The Fitzgerald Biosphere Group is a non-profit grower and natural resource management group operating within the Shire of Jerramungup on the south coast of WA. The group works with farmers, researchers, industry groups and federal and state agencies to address local production (ie: diseases, pests and nutrient limitations) and natural resource management issues (ie: salinity and soil acidification) to ensure the long-term sustainability of the agricultural industry and the communities within the region.
Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park

Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park

The Friends of the Fitzgerald support and promote the appreciation, enjoyment and study of the Fitzgerald River National Park in a manner consistent with its high conservation values.

Greening Australia

Greening Australia works in partnership with landholders, the community, government and business to tackle environmental degradation in a practical, apolitical, scientific way. Greening Australia has considerable experience in environmental restoration and is committed to large scale revegetation with native species and the trial of native species for ecologically sensitive industries.

Green Skills

Green Skills Inc is committed to supporting the creation of ecologically sustainable employment by providing quality environmental training, employment services and management of environmental projects. The organisation focuses on Biodiversity Conservation, New Farming Systems and Sustainable Living.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Science guides the organisation’s work by identifying Earth’s most important natural places. Using innovative tools, The Nature Conservancy protects and restores these priority places. The organisation works together with communities and partners around the world.

The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society (TWS) is Australia’s largest national, community-based, conservation organisation working solely for the protection of Australia’s wilderness and other high conservation value areas; and through this our unique ecosystems, plants and animals. Since its formation in 1976, The Wilderness Society has protected over seven million hectares of wilderness in Australia, including Kakadu, the Daintree, Kangaroo Island, south west Tasmania, including the Franklin River, Australia’s sub-Antarctic Islands (Macquarie, Heard and McDonald Islands), Victoria’s mallee woodlands and SE Queensland’s high conservation value forests. The work of TWS is guided by the science and philosophy of WildCountry. WildCountry is a long-term, large scale vision for the conservation of Australian ecosystems and involves a range of conservation strategies in a variety of projects nationwide and it recognises that the conservation of biodiversity requires the protection and restoration, not just of small patches of country, but entire ecosystems and ecological processes.

OTHER KEY GROUPS

Many other groups are supporting work that is needed to achieve the Gondwana Link vision. A series of beneficial activities, employing a variety of strategies, are occurring across the link.

Across the south coast region there are dozens of groups involved in a wide range of sustainability and environmental work. Together with key state agencies and local councils, they meet regularly as the South Coast Natural Resource Management group (www.southcoastnrm.com.au) to integrate this effort.

Curtin University through the Alcoa Research Centre for Stronger Communities are connecting and supporting people and places to achieve liveable and sustainable communities. The Centre is working towards the cultivation of responsive and responsible links with the wider community, emphasising service, practical relevance, social justice and ethical behaviour.

MIX Artists, a collective of emerging and established artists from Albany, have worked together since 1999 to implement independent, challenging and innovative art activity in the region. The involvement of the community has been integral to many of their projects through engagement in workshops and exhibitions.

One of the key groups in co-ordinating community action across the region is the Great Southern Development Commission. Check their credentials at www.gsdc.wa.gov.au. Keith Bradby, Gondwana Link’s coordinator, won the regionally prestigious Great Southern Development Commission Natural Resource Management medal in 2005.

In Denmark, at the forest-end of Gondwana Link, is one of Western Australia’s most active and successful environment centres: www.denmarkwa.net.au~environ.

Recognising the need for strong research to help overcome our huge sustainability problems, the region has established a Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, linked to the University of Western Australia. It can be found at www.cenrm.uwa.edu.au.

There are many community and volunteer groups doing valuable research and monitoring in the region. For example Birds Australia (WA) is involved in a number of projects for the monitoring and conservation of birds in the state. Two of the current projects focus on Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and the Western Ground Parrot. Both species were once common in the region but are now listed as endangered and critically endangered respectively.

In the future it is anticipated that additional committed groups will be involved in the work to achieve the Gondwana Link vision.

Our vision is both audacious and achievable but it needs your help!

 
Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

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