Fortescue River catchment focus for six-year biodiversity project

The Fortescue River catchment in Western Australia’s Pilbara region is going to be the focus of a six-year project funded by the Federal government’s Biodiversity Fund to protect and improve existing native vegetation and manage threats to biodiversity.

Hammersley Gorge in the Pilbara

Hammersley Gorge in the Pilbara

Rangelands NRM WA will manage the $5.7M grant by working in partnership with Greening Australia WA and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to engage with pastoral, Indigenous, mining and conservation land managers in the region which continues to rapidly develop. The WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) will also join the partnership in Year 3.

General Manager of Rangelands NRM, Dr Brian Warren welcomed the grant and said partnerships between land managers would be formed in order to share knowledge and best practice.

“The Fortescue is a largely intact ecosystem that includes areas of high conservation value,” he said. “With focused management, this area is capable of being enhanced and protected cost effectively in short to mid-term.”

The work will focus on the Fortescue river wetland systems and the Hamersley and Chichester Ranges.

“We’ll be working with land managers in the Ranges to coordinate fire planning and management to promote carbon sequestration and reduce loss of biodiversity from large intense fires,” Dr Warren said.

“Additionally, work will be undertaken to prevent the spread of invasive weeds and feral animals through coordinated mapping and targeted on-ground control.”

Grazing management plans and interventions will also be worked through with pastoral land managers to manage heavy grazing pressure and control livestock in areas of high biodiversity value.

Dr Warren said major companies have already indicated their interest in supporting the proposed project.

“Planned project activities have potential to provide carbon sequestration and avoidance to generate revenue through carbon credit sales,” he said. “This will provide strong economic incentives to continue management of grazing pressure and fire within the project boundaries.”

The Biodiversity Fund

The Biodiversity Fund is a key component of the Gillard Government’s strategy to enhance biodiverse carbon stores and secure a clean energy future for Australia. 317 projects around the country have been successful in this first round of funding and will help to re-vegetate, rehabilitate and restore around 18 million hectares of the Australian landscape over the next six years.

More information on the Biodiversity Fund, and a list of successful projects.

 

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