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'Dodgey' by name, not by nature

Published 15 May 2024

In the magnificent biodiversity of southwest WA, on Goreng-Noongar Country, the great dividing lines between vegetation and cleared land are stark - much like where the earth stops, and the ocean begins. 

Threatened vegetation communities bustling with native wildlife are cut off from each other, causing great difficulty for threatened species like the Chuditch (Western Quoll) and the Noolbenger (Honey Possum). This kind of fragmentation is what Bush Heritage is attempting to curb, reconnecting patches of bush to allow species the free movement they need to survive and thrive.

Dodgey Downs, remnant vegetation and neighbouring Bush Heritage reserves. Photo by Grassland Films.

One might have a chuckle upon passing a property that heralds a big, white sign saying, ‘Dodgey Downs’, but it happens to be a place that holds the key to a crucial reconnection opportunity in one of Australia’s two International Biodiversity Hotspots.

“The name, while funny, doesn’t represent the enormity of this opportunity”, says Alex Hams, Healthy Landscapes Manager for Southwest WA. “It has been on the top of my wish list for years. It’s the dream block that will provide connection and significantly increase our opportunities to have an impact in one of the most incredible places on our continent.”

The landscape in Southwest Western Australia is one of the oldest on the planet. 

Without glacier or volcano disturbance for over 200 million years, the region has evolved an estimated 7,380 vascular plant species, of which 40% are found nowhere else.

The property would reconnect our Red Moort and Monjebup reserves, scaling up our work in an area that's in dire need of protection, and in this case, restoration. If the purchase is successful, the restoration planning process will begin.

Neighbouring revegetation projects on reserves like Monjebup have demonstrated that it’s possible to enact high quality, biodiverse restoration. Alongside our Goreng-Noongar partners, we’ve been working to plant hundreds of species – not just the usual plants and trees, but also the critical understorey plants and those that support our unique fauna.

Genevieve Hayes, Ecologist for the Southwest of WA, understands the function of these landscapes, and would oversee this transformation.

“Just across the road from Dodgey Downs is Red Moort”, she says, “an existing Bush Heritage reserve and an intact wildlife haven. I hope to be here for long enough to see Dodgey Downs transform into a similarly rich ecosystem. That means more Ngoolark (Carnaby’s Cockatoos) gracefully gliding through the reserve network, fuelled by abundant food and resources. I look forward to a time when I can see Chuditch (Western Quolls) bounding across a wider landscape, and wildflowers bursting with colour.”

Alex Hams (Healthy Landscape Manager) at Dodgey Downs. Photo by Grassland Films.

By securing this land, we'll directly facilitate the Noongar community's reconnection to Dodgey Downs. Through our ongoing collaboration with Noongar Elders, we're constantly learning more about the land itself.

The first major step will be to purchase the property, and we can’t do that without the support of our donors. Towards the end of last year, with Evelyn Downs, we made the biggest purchase in our history. Now, we have an opportunity to continue protecting landscapes, this time in a place of near-unmatched biodiversity.

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