Plan for Our Parks will secure a further five million hectares of national parks, marine parks and reserves across Western Australia over the next five years. These will extend from the Kimberley Region in the north, to the South Coast, increasing the conservation estate by more than 20 per cent.
The proposed Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park is situated in the west Kimberley Region within Bardi, Jawi, Mayala and Dambimangari Sea Country and is rich in Aboriginal cultural values. The Archipelago is made up of hundreds of islands surrounded by a marine environment teeming with life. Diverse, fringing coral reefs have formed between many of the islands, withstanding the highest tidal range in Australia in excess of 11m. The proposed marine park also contains the most extensive seagrass beds in the region, providing an important food source for a variety of rare and protected species such as turtles and dugongs. It is also a place of critical importance to humpback whales, which migrate from Antarctic feeding grounds to the Kimberley every year to give birth. The extraordinary values of the region are attracting an increasing number of visitors. Popular activities include fishing, boating, cultural tours and wildlife watching. The warm tropical waters and large tidal range also provide optimal conditions for pearling and aquaculture.
The Fitzroy River catchment has significant cultural, environmental and economic values. For the local traditional owners, the river is known as Martuwarra, and is a living ancestral being. Some parts of the catchment are within the West Kimberley National Heritage Place. The creation of the proposed Fitzroy River National Park will extend the Geikie Gorge National Park along the Fitzroy River to the north and the Margaret River to the east.
Murujuga is the traditional Aboriginal name for the Dampier Archipelago and surrounds, including the Burrup Peninsula and Murujuga National Park. The area is home to one of the largest, densest and most diverse collections of rock art in the world with more than one million known images. Biodiversity values include threatened and priority fauna, and priority flora species and ecological communities. It is proposed to include Site L of the Burrup Strategic Industrial Area (immediately south of Conzinc Bay) into the national park. The WA Government and the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation are also progressing a World Heritage nomination for Murujuga.
The Fortescue Marsh is the largest and most important wetland in the Pilbara Region, located on the Fortescue River north of Newman. The Marsh is culturally significant to the Banjima, Nyiyaparli and Palyku traditional owners and there is a long history of use of the area by Aboriginal people. The area provides habitat for several significant fauna species, including the critically endangered night parrot, endangered northern quoll, greater bilby and Pilbara olive python. When flooded, the Marsh provides important habitat for large numbers of migratory waterbirds. The Marsh Land System has a regionally significant flora assemblage dominated by samphire shrublands and important communities of snakewood and mulga are found on the fringes.
The Ningaloo coast is part of the Baiyungu, Yinikurtira and Thalanyji peoples' traditional country and contains significant cultural values. The proposed reserves contain high conservation values, with several priority flora species and threatened and priority fauna including nesting sea turtles, rock-wallabies, migratory shorebirds and rare and unique species in underground caves and water courses. The coastal strip is very popular for camping and caravanning alongside the iconic Ningaloo Marine Park and is one of the most heavily camped areas in Western Australia. Visitors are attracted to the coast for its outstanding values, varied nature-based tourism and recreation opportunities, sense of remoteness and accessibility to the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area.
The Giralia coast borders the Exmouth Gulf East tidal wetland, which is recognised as being nationally important and provides habitat for threatened and migratory shorebirds. It has high ecological connectivity with the Gulf, where exceptional marine biodiversity and high-value fisheries are supported by coastal productivity from this area. The proposed park also contains Acacia species that are poorly represented in the conservation reserve system, and tropical arid hummock grassland communities. The area attracts recreational fishers, bush walkers and bird watchers.
The Kennedy Range contains spectacular and diverse landscapes and geological features, beautiful springs and wildflowers. Proposed additions to the national park will cover the remaining part of the range itself and include an extensive area of sandplains which support species not represented in the conservation reserve system. There are also records of priority flora and fauna species, and priority ecological communities. Visitors to Kennedy Range enjoy four-wheel driving, camping, bushwalking, climbing, abseiling and wildflower viewing. Culturally significant sites and artefacts provide evidence of a long Aboriginal history in the area.
Mount Augustus is known as Burringurrah to the local Wajarri people and is a significant Aboriginal heritage site. The hilltop and surrounding plain are vegetated by shrubland dominated by wattles, cassias and eremophila species, while permanent pools provide important habitat for birds and other wildlife. A total of 28 priority flora species, together with threatened and priority fauna, including malleefowl, western spiny-tailed skink, western grasswren, western pebble-mound mouse and long-tailed dunnart, have been recorded. The area is valued for its sense of wilderness and is a well-known destination for outback travellers for bushwalking, wildlife encounters and appreciation of its varied landscapes and geological formations. The opportunity for proposed additions to Mount Augustus National Park will also include consideration of a class A national park over former pastoral lease areas in the Midwest Region including Muggon, Wooleen, Lakeside, Dalgaranga and Noongal.
The Shark Bay area is of great zoological and botanical importance, containing habitats of many species at the limits of their range. It is a refuge for a number of globally threatened plant and animal species. The proposed reserve additions lie within the Malgana and Nanda native title determinations and contain Aboriginal cultural values. The proposed additions will substantially increase the area of conservation estate within the Shark Bay World Heritage property.
Proposed reserves include portions of the former Lakeside, Dalgaranga and Burnerbinmah pastoral leases that are located within the Badimia native title claim area. They contain significant Aboriginal rock art and cultural heritage values. The varied landscape provides habitat and critical refugia for threatened and priority fauna, priority flora species, and threatened and priority ecological communities. The area is also visited for its rich wildflower displays in spring. Proposed reserves also include a class A national park over the former Muggon, Wooleen, Lakeside, Dalgaranga and Noongal pastoral leases within the Wajarri Yamatji native title determined area, which will be considered as part of the process for additions to Mount Augustus National Park in the Gascoyne Region.
The Houtman Abrolhos Islands consist of 122 limestone islands in three island groups. The islands boast a diverse natural environment and are one of the most significant seabird breeding areas in the world, with the largest breeding colonies of nine species in WA. The islands have a rich cultural history, most notably including the Batavia shipwreck and its bloody aftermath. Pearling, guano mining, aquaculture, and a long history of Western rock lobster and other fishing industries combine to create a unique cultural heritage and a strong sense of place. The spectacular land and seascapes provide world class surf breaks and wildlife and ecotourism experiences above and below the water.
A proposed national park covers Matuwa and Kurrarra Kurrarra (the former Lorna Glen and Earaheedy pastoral leases). For many years the proposed park has been the site of an arid zone fauna recovery and reintroduction program providing protection for threatened animals affected by the Gorgon Project on Barrow Island. Populations of several mammal species have been introduced to a feral predator-proof enclosure. DBCA and the Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation have been engaged in informal joint management of the area for some time.
The proposed Wanjarri Nature Reserve addition and Kaluwiri and Lake Mason National Park are located in the traditional country of the Tjawrl people. They will protect arid zone landscapes supporting a variety of habitats and threatened and priority species. Mulga woodland provides opportunities for bird watching, walking, and appreciation of the natural environment.
Helena and Aurora Range is the tallest and largest Banded Iron Formation Range in the Coolgardie Bioregion, with significant conservation values. The Range provides important habitats for fauna and endemic, rare and geographically restricted flora species and vegetation communities. The proposed national park offers nature-based tourism opportunities based on landscapes and rock formations, flora and birds.
Marmion Marine Park was Western Australia’s first marine park created in the Perth metropolitan area in 1987. The reserve covers 9500 hectares and includes lagoonal, reef and island habitats that support diverse fish, invertebrate, seagrass and algal communities as well as haul-out areas for threatened Australian sea lions. The park holds a special place in the hearts of local Perth people and international visitors to our beautiful coast. People enjoy swimming, diving, sailing and fishing, while commercial fishing and nature-based tours for diving, whale watching and fishing also occur. Review of the management plan and proposed additions to the marine park will improve the comprehensiveness, adequacy and representation of the marine park and account for improved knowledge of the biodiversity and human use of the area. The review of the management plan will include public consultation and consider important areas for conservation, cultural and Aboriginal heritage, recreation and commercial interests. Opportunities for additions to other metropolitan marine parks will also be considered.
The Beeliar Regional Park is located south of the Perth metropolitan area and is made up of two parallel wetland chains covering an area of approximately 3400 hectares. The Beeliar Wetlands are representative of the significant number of wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain that have been lost since European settlement. The park’s lakes and wetlands serve as an important breeding ground and summer refuge for a diverse bird population and provide a diversity of habitat that is important to wildlife. North Lake and Bibra Lake in particular are areas of regionally significant landscape, recreation and conservation value including substantial spirituality for local Nyoongar people. The McGowan Labor Government is committed to protecting the Beeliar Wetlands through amending the zoning of more than 34 hectares of the Beeliar Wetlands under the metropolitan region scheme from primary regional roads to parks and recreation. All land owned in freehold by the State government north of Hope Road and west of Bibra Drive will be set aside as a Class A conservation park to be managed by DBCA. These areas will be managed for conservation in perpetuity as part of the Beeliar Regional Park.
South West Region
Creation of the Preston River to Ocean Regional Park will ensure the protection of the area’s biodiversity while maintaining and improving recreational, social and cultural values for the residents of Bunbury and surrounds. It will create a continuous reserve from south of Bunbury, west of Preston River, to the coast. The proposed Leschenault Regional Park will extend along the Collie and Brunswick rivers westwards across the Swan Coastal Plain. The total area of the proposed parks is about 3,100 hectares.
Areas of State forest are proposed to be added to Wellington National Park. The proposed additions would increase the overall area of the national park to 24,606 hectares. The park will be extended along the southern interface to the Preston River, providing a focus for recreation and tourism development along major access routes, with direct links to existing recreation sites and facilities in Wellington National Park. The proposed expansion also provides for potential trail development, including a walk trail around Wellington Dam.
South Coast Region
Located off the coast of Esperance, the Recherche Archipelago contains over 150 islands and 1500 islets and has been identified as a priority for conservation. Due to the effects of the Leeuwin current, there is a diverse mix of subtropical and temperate marine fauna and flora. Waters of the Archipelago contain the largest area of reef in the south west marine bioregion. The reef, along with extensive seagrass and rhodolith beds, support a high diversity of fish, molluscs, sponges and macroalgae. The Recherche Archipelago is also important for seabirds, Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and southern right whales. West of Esperance, the coastline around Stokes Inlet lacks the islands that characterise the Recherche, but instead has a system of parallel nearshore limestone reefs interspersed with deep channels that have high invertebrate and finfish diversity. The south coast, especially near major population centres like Esperance, is experiencing an increase in tourism, and the Recherche Archipelago and Stokes Inlet provide spectacular water-based recreation, ecotourism and enjoyment opportunities. A multiple use marine park will consider important areas for conservation, cultural and Aboriginal heritage, recreation and commercial opportunities as important contributions to the local people and economy. Extensive community consultation will be an important part of any marine planning process on the South Coast.