This service is responsible for developing and implementing programs for the conservation and improved management of the State’s biodiversity including animals, plants, genes and ecosystems, based on best-practice science.
Table 4: Service 6 performance summary
Expenses by service
Key efficiency indicator
Average cost per hectare of wildlife habitat
Key effectiveness indicators
Proportion of critically endangered and endangered species and ecological communities that have a recovery plan
Area of land baited for introduced predators (in hectares)
More information on these indicators can be found in the Disclosures and Legal Compliance section under Key Performance Indicators.
Biodiversity conservation legislation, policy and strategic programs
- DBCA provided advice and input to regulatory and coordinating agencies involved with key State Government initiatives and projects, and major private sector developments of economic importance to WA. These initiatives and projects included bauxite mining expansion, lithium mining and processing, water for food, salt and potash, hydrogen and renewable energy, oil and gas developments, and major infrastructure including Metronet, Mitchell Freeway and Tonkin Highway extensions, Bunbury Outer and Albany Ring Roads, East Keralup Regional Development, the State Football Centre and Kemerton Industrial Estate.
- The Carbon for Conservation initiative was released in August 2020 under the State Government’s Market-led Proposals policy. DBCA began working with carbon farming service providers to explore carbon farming opportunities on the conservation estate that maximise environmental, social and economic benefits, including Aboriginal and regional employment.
- DBCA is a member of a national working group to implement a Memorandum of Understanding for a common assessment method for listing threatened species in a consistent manner between the Australian Government and states and territories, with the objective of developing a single national threatened species list. Eight species of animals and plants had their status under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) changed as part of the process to align threatened species listed under the EPBC Act with threatened species listed under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). This brings the total number of species with changed EPBC Act status under this process to 105.
Establish and manage the conservation reserve system
- DBCA's marine monitoring program collected data and reported on the condition of key ecological values in WA's marine reserves and the pressures acting on them. This included surveys at Ngari Capes, metropolitan marine parks, Jurien Bay, the Rowley Shoals and the inshore Kimberley over the year.
- DBCA installed permanent variable message boards in key locations in Fitzgerald River National Park to improve the communication of information to visitors about seasonal road closures for Phytophthora dieback management.
Threatened and important animals
- At 30 June 2021, there were 249 threatened animal species (57 critically endangered, 58 endangered and 134 vulnerable), 23 extinct animal species, 88 specially protected animal species (seven conservation-dependent, seven otherwise in need of special protection and 74 migratory) and 219 species on DBCA's priority fauna list.
- There were 368 records of sightings, captures or evidence of threatened and priority animals added to the Threatened and Priority Fauna database.
- Following climate modelling and assessment of vegetation structure and floristics of potential ground parrot translocation sites on the south coast, several critically endangered western ground parrots (Pezoporus flaviventris) were translocated to a remote location east of Albany and fitted with monitoring devices, in partnership with Friends of the Western Ground Parrot, Birdlife WA and other volunteers. This new location has been prepared through feral animal control and fire management.
- Monitoring using remote cameras and nest boxes was established in Tutanning Nature Reserve in the Wheatbelt to determine effects of Eradicat® baiting on specially protected red-tailed phascogale (Phascogale calura) populations. Results show the bait is likely to pose a low risk to the species.
- DBCA worked with Perth Zoo to release 103 critically endangered white-bellied frogs (Geocrinia alba) and 75 vulnerable orange-bellied frogs (G. vitellina) to supplement wild populations near Margaret River. Additionally, 47 populations and sub-populations were monitored, and UWA utilised this dataset to define the species’ habitat requirements and model abundance to assist with the selection of future translocation sites.
- Management actions including fencing, signage, feral and pest animal control, hydrological investigations, monitoring, Phytophthora dieback control and fire management were undertaken to protect threatened and priority animal populations across the State.
Threatened and important plants
- At 30 June 2021, there were 429 extant threatened plant species (160 critically endangered, 140 endangered and 129 vulnerable), 15 listed as presumed to be extinct and 3321 taxa on DBCA's priority flora list.
- A total of 921 populations, comprising 318 species of threatened and priority plants, were surveyed or monitored, and 54 new populations of threatened plants and 236 new populations of priority plants were located. Of the 1433 records added to the Threatened and Priority Flora Database, 248 were for new populations.
- The WA Herbarium collection increased by 11,489 specimens, bringing the total number of specimens held to 821,443. A total of 817 names were added to the WA Plant Census.
- The WA Herbarium journal Nuytsia celebrated its 50th year and names for 53 taxa were published in the journal.
- Plant surveys from the Kimberley Islands Biodiversity Survey resulted in 444 plant specimens being lodged with the WA Herbarium.
- A total of 158 seed collections of conservation significant species were banked at the WA Seed Centre, which now holds seed collections of 386 threatened plant and 907 priority plant species. During 2020–21, new populations of 15 threatened plant species were planted in four locations free or largely free of key threats. Infill planting of five threatened plant species was undertaken at five sites.
- Twenty-six threatened plants and a number of significant priority plants impacted by bushfires in the Stirling Range National Park in 2018 and 2019 were surveyed and long-term monitoring in key populations was established. More than 118 surveys were undertaken across 112 populations. Seed production areas were established for 14 of these species with 950 seedlings planted across two sites.
- A program evaluating the extent of habitat senescence at key threatened plant populations within the conservation estate of the Wheatbelt was finalised. Plans to regenerate these habitats through conservation actions, including fire management, have started throughout the region.
Threatened ecological communities
- At 30 June 2021, there were 65 extant ecological communities listed as threatened through a non-statutory process (20 critically endangered, 17 endangered and 28 vulnerable), and four listed as collapsed. Another 391 ecological communities were on the priority list.
- New information was added to the Threatened and Priority Ecological Communities database for 261 occurrences of Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) and Priority Ecological Communities (PECs) distributed across the State. Surveys were completed in 81 occurrences of TECs and PECs throughout the State.
- Management actions including weed mapping and control, fencing, signage, feral and pest animal control, hydrological investigations, monitoring, revegetation, Phytophthora dieback control and fire management were undertaken to protect 81 occurrences of TECs and 14 PECs, in 54 reserves across the State.
- Surveys and reports detailing conservation values were completed for 1800 hectares of vegetation with five TECs.
- The 2020-2040 Landscape Recovery Program for the Lake Bryde TEC was completed and published online.
- DBCA reviewed the Cane Toad Strategy for Western Australia and prepared a draft strategy to outline actions over the next five years. It is intended to continue to focus on mitigating the impact of cane toads (Rhinella marina) on native wildlife, while continuing community engagement and quarantine strategies.
- 126 hectares of threatened vegetation in Stirling Range National Park, 5 hectares of the vulnerable species Andersonia pinaster, and 27 hectares of Proteaceae Dominated Kwongkan Shrublands TEC in the Fitzgerald River National Park were aerially treated with phosphite to protect them from the impacts of Phytophthora dieback.
- DBCA launched an online version of the Green Card course in Phytophthora dieback and plant biosecurity awareness and basic management for delivery to DBCA and Forest Products Commission staff and contractors. To date, 205 students have completed the online course, and a further 16 students received a face-to-face course. The Dieback Management Planning course was delivered to 42 students in Pemberton, Bunbury and Collie.
- DBCA is collaborating with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) on preparedness for a myrtle rust incursion.
- Research to develop and refine on-ground and remote sensing approaches to survey and mapping of fine-scale variation in fire severity is improving reporting of fire impacts and prescribed burning outcomes.
- Operations to prioritise, review and manage priority environmental weeds continued throughout the State, including through collaborative efforts with traditional owner and community groups.
- DBCA participated in a range of wild dog management activities in collaboration with recognised biosecurity groups, to ensure a coordinated landscape-wide approach to minimising the impact of wild dogs on agricultural and pastoral production. A review of the Code of Practice for the Safe Use and Management of Registered Pesticides containing 1080, PAPP and STRYCHNINE was initiated, in collaboration with the Department of Health and DPIRD.
- Trials of Felixer grooming traps for controlling feral cats and foxes in the southern jarrah forest began. The aim is to determine how effective this tool may be at substantially reducing introduced predators at the meso spatial scale (>10,000 hectares).
- DBCA has set up herbicide trials to assess the effectiveness of a grass-selective herbicide to control African lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) and the potential of off-target impacts this herbicide (Fluproponate) has on native vegetation, including the critically endangered Grevillea curviloba subsp. Curviloba and endangered Grevillea curviloba subsp. incurva.
- The Western Shield wildlife recovery program continued to implement broadscale fox and feral cat control for native animal conservation across a network of sites. Approximately 3.8 million hectares of DBCA-managed and adjoining lands across WA were baited as part of the core program involving the use of approximately 410,000 fox baits and 648,000 Eradicat® feral cat baits. Regular monitoring of baited areas continued to track the recovery of native species.
- More than 9000 volunteers have now used the Western Shield Camera Watch webpage hosted by Zooniverse to help classify a significant number of remote camera images, contributing to the monitoring of native animals and their predators, feral cats and foxes, in the northern jarrah forest.
Wildlife sanctuaries and translocations
- Monitoring of critically endangered woylies (Bettongia penicillata) and endangered numbats (Myrmecobius fasciatus) at Dryandra Woodland continued and showed positive trends in recovery following integrated fox and feral cat control.
- DBCA began developing a woylie population management strategy and translocation planning to manage high demand for animals for several intra- and interstate translocation proposals over the next few years.
- Perup Sanctuary continued to support robust populations of woylies and critically endangered western ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus occidentalis). Ongoing monitoring of recent western ringtail possum translocations showed signs of new animal recruitment.
- A recent survey for the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) on Middle Island following a translocation of 10 animals in 2018, resulted in six captures of individual potoroos, three previously known and three new animals born on the island.
- The Perth Zoo breeding program continued to produce numbats, endangered dibblers (Parantechinus apicalis) and critically endangered western swamp tortoises (Pseudemydura umbrina) for wild release.
- A study to investigate the survivorship of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) relocated from suburban Perth to State forest near Jarrahdale was completed with poor survival observed soon after relocation.
- A draft management plan for the Pilbara Inshore Islands was developed to support management decisions for more than 100 islands.
- Research to address key management-related knowledge gaps regarding ecological processes, key pressures, along with biological surveys was carried out at Ningaloo, Shark Bay and Ngari Capes. Key achievements included a study of methods to monitor fish assemblages in seagrass and a major national collaborative study using Baited Remote Underwater Video data that examined marine reserve fish assemblages in relation to management zoning.
- The Dolphin Watch app was amalgamated into the Marine Fauna Sightings app with DPIRD. This app is available Statewide with community education programs for Perth, Mandurah, Bunbury, the Pilbara and the Kimberley. DBCA continues to explore how best to use the collected data for management and to maximise community engagement.
Rivers and Estuaries Science
- The Swan Canning Estuarine Response Model, developed in partnership with UWA, was used to generate datasets for comparison with spatial information on invertebrate, fish and dolphins and investigate hydrodynamic processes contributing to Phytophthora dieback in the upper Swan catchment. In addition, the model was coupled with catchment models for planning towards water quality improvement approaches.
- DBCA continued to deliver the Swan Canning Water Quality Monitoring Project. This included weekly water quality monitoring at 41 sites throughout the estuary and fortnightly monitoring at 33 sites within the catchment.
- River incident response involved investigations of toxic algae, fire, flood and pollution event impacts and fish kills. Incident response also included providing weekly updates to stakeholders on the levels of the harmful algae Alexandrium throughout the spring and summer of 2020–21.
- The 2020 condition assessment of the Swan Canning estuary based on the fish community index identified that, on average, nearshore and offshore waters were in fair to good ecological condition, consistent with results obtained since 2011.
- In partnership with UWA, a pilot project is being undertaken to develop DNA monitoring of the Canning River to detect the movement of both native and feral fish. Ten sites have been sampled looking at fish and crayfish while additionally trying to detect the presence of the pouched lamprey.
- A biological survey of the remote Lake Carnegie wetland system was undertaken to provide information on its conservation values in support of joint management planning.
- A program to fill monitoring and knowledge gaps for reporting on the condition and effectiveness of management at the State's Ramsar wetlands began. This will focus on the key drivers of hydrology, vegetation structure and water quality, plus waterbird populations. Initial activities included fish surveys in Muir-Byenup wetlands and waterbird surveys of the Lake Warden and Lake Gore wetlands as well as Thomsons and Forrestdale Lakes. All biological surveys are also complemented with water quality monitoring.
- DBCA finalised a program to monitor the hydrology of selected wetlands along the south coast of Western Australia. Data will be analysed to describe the hydrological regimes that support the endangered Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).
- A review of wetland values and extent across an area of 376,000 hectares of the Swan Coastal Plain was completed and incorporated into the draft Wetlands Evaluation Swan Coastal Plain dataset.
- FORESTCHECK data showed that there was little effect of planned burning on plant diversity and no impact of silvicultural treatments on post bushfire floristics.
- A new study provided an improved understanding of the relative importance of shallow versus deep aquifer contributions to streamflow with implications for aquifer recharge and stream flow modelling.
- Examination of the vulnerability of forest ecosystems to climate change in terms of structure, composition regeneration and functioning was extended to below ground microflora, using drought-affected and bushfire-affected forest study sites.
- Research catchments, Yarrigil 4L and Cobiac, have been used to examine how forest cover changes over time, and in response to climatic extremes. A new publication showed that stand thinning and fertiliser application enhanced jarrah tree growth.
- Research into the utility of environmental DNA in monitoring invertebrates and mammals in the south-west forests began with a fire chronosequence study using FORESTCHECK sites, as well as developing a reference library for the invertebrates present at the sites.
- A methodology to identify pine tree crowns has been developed using high-resolution aerial imagery.
- DBCA's Land for Wildlife program registered 25 new properties, bringing the total area of registered sites managed privately for conservation to 1,046,089 hectares on 1974 properties. A number of these assessments were conducted by NRM group partners after training and support.
- The voluntary Nature Conservation Covenant program registered three new covenants (two conditional and one voluntary). Through the program, covenants have been established on 373 titles covering 29,908 hectares, including habitat for threatened species and ecological communities, a Ramsar-listed wetland and registered Aboriginal heritage sites.
Licensing and Ministerial Authorisation
- To support the sustainable use of wildlife, DBCA issued 5893 licences under the BC Act to take, collect, keep and breed, deal in, trap, import or export native animals, and 775 licences to collect, supply, deal and process native plants, including sandalwood. A further 183 licences were issued to either scare, destroy, trap or relocate nuisance wildlife or dangerous wildlife and wildlife causing damage.
- Under the BC Act, Ministerial authorisation is required for the take and disturbance of threatened species (fauna and flora) and the modification of TECs. There were 209 plant authorisations and 221 animal authorisations granted.