Biodiversity conservation in the Avon River Basin, Western Australia

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Australia/New-Zealand > Australia

Juvenile Western spiny tailed skink (Egernia stokesii badia), Ballidu. Western Australia.
© Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) / Sonja Creese

Summary

The Avon River Basin covers 12 million hectares across much of Western Australia’s central wheat belt. Decades of intensive agriculture and development in the basin, however, has put hundreds of animal and plant species at risk, particularly from increased salinity in the water.

WWF is supporting community groups and individuals in the Avon region to participate in urgent recovery actions for threatened species and ecosystems. Sharing information and creating partnerships between community groups, local and state government agencies, local business and landowners are key to developing long-term conservation projects in the region.

Background

The Avon River Basin covers a total area of 12,000,000ha across much of Western Australia’s central Wheatbelt and consists of the Avon, Yilgarn and Lockhart Catchments. The diversity of plants and animals in the Avon River Basin is nationally recognised as being of very high value.

Following the finalisation of the Avon Catchment Council’s (ACC) Natural Resource Management Strategy in 2005, a successful joint-bid was awarded to the Department of Environment and Conservation and WWF Australia to deliver Back from the Edge, a project focused on the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities in the Avon River Basin. The combined initiative forms part of the Avon Catchment Council’s suite of Natural Diversity projects.

Facilitating community engagement into all aspects of the project wherever possible and appropriate has been recognised as a high priority for Back from the Edge. With the appointment of a Community Engagement Project Officer in 2006, WWF Australia has taken on the role of supporting community groups and individuals to participate in urgent recovery actions for threatened species and ecological communities.

Due to the strong relationship between the threatening processes to species and communities of salinity and weeds, actions for this project will be integrated with salinity projects and with the biosecurity project in regard to environmental weed management.

The development of a strategic plan for conservation of threatened species and communities is critical for the approximate 450 species at risk from rising saline water tables for which current conservation approaches will be insufficient.

Objectives

- Implement management strategies that protect threatened species and ecological communities in the Avon River Basin.

- Recognise local conservation concerns and assist community groups with on-the-ground work, advice and funding.

- Build the capacity of existing community groups to conduct on-the-ground threat abatement and recovery activities.

- Encourage the formation and development of new groups to address gaps in on-the-ground conservation work.

Solution

Supporting community involvement is an important aspect of this project, providing information and assistance to community groups and fostering individual enthusiasm to carry out effective long-term conservation practices and threatened species recovery.

This goal will be achieved through a process of ongoing community consultation and engagement in conjunction with the following major activities:

- Baselining the current capacity of community conservation groups to conduct on-the-ground work for threatened species in the Avon River Basin. This will be used to identify opportunities for community participation in current recovery activities and identify areas where community groups would benefit from increased support and work to facilitate this.

- Raising awareness about key threats impacting on threatened species and ecological communities and what the public can do to abate threats.

- Working with community groups and landholders to carry out effective on-the-ground threat abatement activities.

- Integrating community-based threatened species recovery projects into overall regional conservation initiatives.

- Facilitating information sharing, collaboration and partnerships between community groups, ACC, local government, state government agencies and local business in order to develop long-term conservation projects.

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