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Great Western Woodland

About • Biodiversity • Culture and Heritage • Achievements • Research and Reports   

Stop and rethink the fence

East of the famous Rabbit Proof Fence is 16 million hectare (40 million acres) of relatively intact bush.

This rich tapestry of woodlands, mallees and shrublands connects Australia’s south-west corner to its inland deserts. It is a land of granite rock islands, of shrubby plains, of mallee and red dirt, and of woodlands that are so vast that ancient hydrological patterns still operate and clouds still gather in response to the vegetation beneath.

Nowhere else do large trees of such variety grow where water is so scarce and the soil so depleted of nutrients.

The Great Western Woodlands (GWW) is a 16 million hectare swath of woodlands and heathlands interspersed with salt lakes which represents the largest intact remaining Mediterranean habitat in the world. It is home to more than 20% of all Australia’s known plant species and remains a unique haven for a community of animal species that are now threatened elsewhere in Australia. One of these is the community of birds typically found in temperate woodlands. As a direct result of habitat destruction and fragmentation, woodland bird communities have been in decline in many parts of Australia, but they can still be found in the Great Western Woodlands. This provides an opportunity to better understand the functioning of temperate woodland bird communities, which has implications for the management of woodlands as a whole.

Although the Great Western Woodlands remains a largely intact ecosystem predominantly located on public lands, only small portions of the area are currently under protection. Today, despite its rich biological and cultural values, this wilderness is threatened by poor fire management, feral animals, weed encroachment, and human activities including road construction and mining. Yet the region also represents a part of the country where conservation opportunities still exist at an enormous scale.

Our vision

Recognition, protection and integrated management for one of Australia’s great natural areas through the involvement of local communities and stakeholders and for the benefit of people, nature and future generations.
A number of organisations are working with the communities and stakeholders of the Woodlands to have this area protected, managed and promoted in a way that:

  • Recognises and manages the area as a single entity (or landscape), not as fragmented, separate parts
  • Provides substantial financial & human resources for ongoing management
  • Supports ongoing, well managed, economic and recreational land uses 
  • Ensures the rights of Traditional Owners are respected, with a high level of engagement in ownership, management and protection of culture and heritage
  • Highlights the area’s status as a very special, diverse and beautiful Australian landscape
  • Maximises local community leadership and involvement

How can we achieve this?

  • Through the development of a regional management structure involving all participating stakeholders and underpinned by strong, positive, long term working relationships.
  • Through a Government commitment to statutory recognition, protection and management of the outstanding values of the Great Western Woodlands.
  • Through development of a comprehensive management plan which provides the scientific basis for future management and sets out a range of land use zones which provide ‘security of purpose’ for a mix of land uses including conservation, mining, recreation and Indigenous.