Bush Heritage has been working with neighbours, partners and Traditional Owners for over a decade on the Gondwana Link project to help re-establish connectivity in the south-west West Australian biodiversity hotspot.
On the 29th of September over 120 people came together to celebrate the completion of a 400-hectare restoration project on Bush Heritage’s Monjebup North property and to reflect on our progress, achievements and future goals in Gondwana Link.
It was a beautiful day. The sun gods smiled on Bush Heritage for the second time this week in the West (Blues in the Bush was the first). After a week of hail, frosts and bitter cold winds in the south-west, the field day fell on a small window of fabulous weather – really fabulous.
At 10am after a brief morning tea the crowd were drawn into the marquee by the wonderful welcoming sounds of two didgeridoos played skilfully by two young Noongar men. This was followed by a beautiful welcome to country by Noongar Elder Eugene Eades.
Eugene discussed the importance of restoring the land, two way learning, and how two cultures came together at Monjebup Reserve to heal the land. This is a process that is continuing across Gondwana Link. He commented, "When we removed the fences the land was able to breathe again...Healing the land heals the people".
Simon Smale (Landscapes Manager, Gondwana Link) welcomed guests and provided a beautiful overview of Bush Heritage's restoration in the FitzStirling region.
Representatives from Bush Heritage's partner organisation, Greening Australia (Blair Parsons - Director of Conservation WA and NT, and, Barry Heydenrych), then discussed restoration in the Fitz-Stirling region.
The participants were then encouraged to explore the restoration site and hear from Jack Mercer (Restoration Practitioner, Marlak Environmental) and Dr. Geoff Woodall (University of Western Australia, Research Fellow) about the practical side of restoration - direct-seeding in the field and monitoring the results.
Libby Sandiford (Botanist and Bush Heritage Contractor) discussed the ongoing reserve vegetation surveys and the insights they're providing into the extraordinary floristic diversity of the south-west. Sarah Comer (DPaW Regional Ecologist & PhD candidate) told the group about early findings from the extension of her PhD study on feral cats into the fragmented landscape between Stirling Range and Fitzgerald River National Parks. Justin Jonson (Threshold Environmental) outlined his detailed approach to restoration planning that includes analysis of soils and other elements, to design restoration systems that are based on reference ecosystems in equivalent undisturbed landscape.
After a full morning we soaked up the sun, shared a beautiful lunch and talked conservation and restoration. Simon Smale reflected, "It’s a complicated process, we’ve learnt lots, and we have lots more to learn. But most importantly, as we travel that journey we are restoring flourishing biodiversity to country damaged by historical clearing and fragmentation. This endeavour brings together a wonderful array of committed individuals in many different roles. The power of the recovering landscape was palpable all around us at the field day. It's wonderful reward for our collective efforts".