Sometimes our patch over here in the mid-west of Western Australia can seem like a long way from the action – with many of the major conservation events and functions being held in the eastern states. However, last week, we felt like we were at the centre of the universe – at least when it comes to threatened species conservation in Australia.
Last week the wonderful regional city of Geraldton on the mid-west coast, hosted the biennial West Australian Threatened Species Forum. It attracts an amazing line-up of scientists, researchers, practitioners and many others to our west coast to talk about all sorts of topics associated with saving threatened species in WA.
Bush Heritage staff working in the region attend the conference, and we were also fortunate to host Dr Rebecca Spindler my colleague and, Executive Manager Science and Conservation, over from Sydney.
Three of our Western Rangelands team gave excellent presentations, and Bush Heritage “popped-up” in a number of other presentations – including by national Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews, and a great talk about the Martu bilby conservation project in which we’re so heavily involved through the Birriliburu partnership.
It was a fantastic event, and it was great to see members of the West region team give excellent presentations. The subjects of their talks were:
- Elisabeth McLellan (Western Rangelands Landscapes Manager) – Restoring a rangeland landscape and protecting threatened species – Hamelin Reserve: The importance of baselines for measuring success.
- Vanessa Westcott (Ecologist West) – Collaboration and new technology – saving Malleefowl in the mid-west of Western Australia.
- Ben Parkhurst (Reserves Ecologist – Western Rangelands ) – The Western Grasswren (Amytornis textilis textilis) on Hamelin Station Reserve.
We were also fortunate to have Rebecca on-stage in a panel of experts for a Q&A session with the audience to wrap-up the conference, which provided another great opportunity to promote the superb work being done by Bush Heritage to protect threatened species (among everything else).
During the Forum it was also announced by the Threatened Species Commission that Bush Heritage and some of its closest Western Australian partners were to receive significant support from the Threatened Species Recovery Fund to deliver new and innovative threatened species projects in Western Australia, side-by-side with Traditional Owners.
Bush Heritage developed an application on behalf of the Birrilliburu Traditional Owners for a two-year project that focuses on building and harnessing knowledge for large-scale and long-term protection of threatened species habitat across the Birrilliburu Indigenous Protected Area in the Central Desert region of WA.
And secondly WWF Australia worked with Traditional owners and Bush Heritage in the Kimberley region to lead development of another exciting project. This project called ‘Preserving Australia’s Ark' will work to safeguard Golden Bandicoots and Brush-tailed Rabbit-rats in the Dambimangari and Uunguu Indigenous Protected Areas in the North Kimberley.
This investment in our Aboriginal partners work is further recognition of the critical conservation and threatened species work undertaken on Aboriginal lands and the importance of Bush Heritage's ongoing role in supporting their activity and people.
The conference was co-hosted by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and NRMWA – the consortium of WA’s seven natural resource management organisations. It was largely organised by our partner NRM group in the region – the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC). Bush Heritage’s contribution included being represented on the conference scientific committee by Vanessa Westcott.
The Forum was attended by about 170 delegates, with keynote speakers including Carlos Drews, EO of the Jane Goodall Institute in the US; Penny Figgis, VP of IUCN-Oceania; Mark Burgman, Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London; and Brendan Wintle, Director, Threatened Species Recovery Hub.
We're all looking forward to the next Forum in 2019.