Fencing protects Ramsar wetlands at Eighty mile beach

Each month, we will be focusing on a successful project that was funded by the State NRM office last year. This month, we look at protecting Ramsar wetlands by erecting a fence to guard 80 mile beach from cattle.

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The establishment of approximately 64 km of fencing to exclude cattle from the coastal habitats of 80 Mile Beach is helping to protect an important Ramsar listed site in the North of WA near Broome.

Funding from the Community NRM grant was used for fencing off the coastal boundary of Wallal Downs.

Coordinated by Greening Australia (WA), the fencing project is part of a larger 80 Mile Beach conservation project, funded by BHP Billiton Iron Ore and coordinated by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW),  facilitating the completion of the total fencing off of the coastal boundary of the Ramsar site at Eighty Mile Beach, protecting approximately 170 000 hectares.

Greening Australia Program Manager Pilbara, Mike Clark said cattle have been grazing these habitats for many years causing widespread degradation of coastal dune vegetation.

“The exclusion of cattle will reduce of impacts of grazing pressure on vegetation and the deleterious effects of trampling,” Mr Clark said.

The greater project once complete, will have fenced off all the coastal boundaries of Pardoo, Wallal Downs, Madora and Anna Plains Stations and will provide the landward boundary of the proposed State Government-managed 80 Mile Beach Marine Park, which is also a Ramsar site. It will also fence off the Ramsar listed Mandora Marsh which is on Ann Plains Station and Nyangumarta Determination Area.

 “This work has been done in conjunction with the pastoral managers and traditional owners, and an ongoing maintenance strategy has also been developed.”

The fencing was completed with a fencing contractor working alongside Nyangumarta and Karajarri Traditional Owners who benefited from the opportunity to gain employment and on the job training in fence construction whilst on country.

More about Eighty Mile Beach

Eighty Mile Beach is located in both the Shires of Broome and East Pilbara and includes beaches from Cape Missiessy to Cape Keraudren and is connected to the Mandora Salt Marsh.

The vulnerable Bilby is found within the Mandora Salt Marsh and the vulnerable Flatback Turtle regularly nest at scattered locations along the Eighty Mile Beach. Between 150-200,000 birds use it for migratory purposes including sixty-four EPBC* listed birds. Several priority flora are also found in the area.

*EPBC = listed as threatened or migratory under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act),