The significance of this area
This is where the wet forest meets the west coast, where a different geological mix brings an extra suite of species richness to this end of the Link, and our goals of ecosystem restoration meet some additional challenges.
As one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia, the Augusta-Margaret River Shire is under enormous pressure from population increases and associated urban expansion, tourist development, and agriculture including viticulture, intensive horticulture, grazing, and plantation forestry.
Yet this a biologically rich area already has numerous threatened and priority ecological communities, threatened vegetation types and habitat for a broad range of significant species – including 69 declared rare or priority flora species and 43 threatened fauna species.
A number of endangered species are endemic to the region, such as the Margaret River hairy marron and burrowing crayfish, white-bellied frog and Leeuwin snail. Despite significant efforts, environmental weeds still impact large areas of important bushland and impact biodiversity values in all but the best bushland.
On-going work is also required to manage introduced feral animals and diseases, particularly perhaps with respect to aquatic feral species and significant plant diseases such as the increasingly common Marri canker and phytophthora dieback.
And then there’s climate change, accelerating a number of existing challenges and bringing a number of new challenges, including the prospect of increased fire risk.
The Story so Far
Fortunately the community of this region has many enlightened, environmentally minded and creative people, capable of driving a better ecological future for the region. The whirl of activity they maintain is incredibly impressive.
We work mainly with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region (previously known as the Cape to Cape Catchments Group), who have close working relations with the Augusta Margaret River Shire and Lower Blackwood Landcare.
In 2010 Cape to Cape gained LotteryWest support to undertake fencing of critical bushland areas and development of a Conservation Action Plan (CAP). The CAP for the Augusta-Margaret River Landscape identified key biodiversity targets and strategically critical steps to achieve them.
While this may have helped the group think more strategically about their efforts, the test of time showed it didn’t really fit with the group’s focus, capacity and the range of needs and opportunities before them. They have now established a higher-order strategic plan identifying long term strategic environment and engagement programs for their work. They now also have a re-vitalised Board structure and strategic alliances with other key groups in their area.
As a result, there is a veritable flurry of good work happening, strengthening the ecological sustainability of the area and giving confidence that population growth doesn’t have to mean the end of healthy wildlife populations or the decline in biodiversity values.
We’re particularly excited to see the focus on collaborative environmental programs such as the Wooditjup Bilya Protection Strategy and the astoundingly successful Arum Lily Blitz. The long term ‘Our Patch’ and ‘Adopt a Spot’ environmental education programs are well respected and are growing the environmental stewards of the future for the region. Importantly Nature Conservation maintains strong recognition and collaboration with the local Wadandi people as traditional custodians of the region.