[24 September 2015]
Landholders in the Pilbara will receive further support to control the ‘thorny menace’ that threatens the habitat of two endangered species.
The project, supported by Rangelands NRM through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, will contribute to the survey, identification and protection of the habitats of the Northern Quoll and Greater Bilby in the Pilbara Bioregion that is currently under threat from the spread of a number of Weeds of National Significance (WoNS).
Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Desert & Pilbara) Chris Curnow said the project will facilitate co-investment in weed control programs with pastoral, mining, Indigenous and government land managers, implementing complementary cross-tenure programs that slow and/or remove the spread of weed infestations from the landscape.
“A major focus will be to assess vegetation complexes from which weeds are removed and align targeted weed control endeavours with vegetation types known to be suitable habitat for populations of the Northern Quoll and Greater Bilby,” he said.
Mr Curnow said the Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee (PMMC) will be responsible for the coordination of on-ground WoNS control programs, facilitating weed planning sessions, and evaluating the impact of weed control programs on enhancing the integrity of identified habitat types known to support threatened species populations.
The PMMC has recently appointed a new Program Manager — Jo Kuiper — who takes over the reins from Linda Anderson who has been in the role for over ten years and is moving on to a new NRM role in Queensland.
Jo joins PMMC with a range of experience in Western Australian environments including environmental consultancy and conservation and land management programs. She will be responsible for liaising and fostering continued partnerships with the key funding partners and land managers.
Jo said the crucial factor preventing the spread of WoNS into intact and priority ecosystems are the ‘WoNS alliances’ — groups of neighbouring land managers who are working together to survey, control, map and monitor programs.
Across the Pilbara, this project will manage and contribute to the control of WoNS species across 20,000 hectares of land per annum. All data collected will be logged according to agreed standards, and will be input into the Pilbara WoNS control database managed by the PMMC.
The project will see a number of monitoring sites implemented across the Pilbara, relating to known and/or potential Great Bilby and Northern Quoll habitats.
“There will be a specific focus on assessing the pre-treatment vegetation complex, the success of the WoNS control program and an assessment of post-treatment habitat integrity in the short-term,” Mr Curnow said.
“A follow-up aerial survey for WoNS will occur across the Ashburton and coastal catchments, to determine changes in distribution and density of recorded plants since the survey conducted in 2010,” he said.
Further survey efforts will be undertaken in partnership with the Pilbara Corridors Project, in total surveying the most actively controlled infestations of WoNS in the past five years.
NOTES FOR EDITOR:
RNRM has supported the PMMC in its regional Weeds of National Significance coordination and management role in the Pilbara since 2007 (focus on mesquite, parkinsonia, cactus and bellyache bush). The impacts of weeds are well known – they destroy the integrity of landscape function and habitats for native plants and animals (i.e. disrupt a landscape's capacity to support biodiversity values), hinder pastoral production, alter soil properties, weaken soil structure and impact negatively on Indigenous and European heritage connections to the land.
Through the excellent work of land managers in participating in weed management activities, and the PMMC in pulling investment from external sources to assist on-ground works, the control of WoNS across the Pilbara is the most active in history. The PMMC has leveraged an additional $1.6M for coordinated on-ground weed control (from six corporate land managers).
The PMMC has facilitated the revision of the Pilbara Mesquite Strategy in conjunction with Astron Environmental, released in 2015.
Rangelands NRM WA is a not for profit, non-aligned, community-based group which aims to enhance the sustainable management of the WA rangelands through facilitation, collaboration and delivering outcomes. It is the largest of the 56 NRM regions in Australia, covering around 85 per cent (2,266,000 sq km) of the WA State’s land mass, and 75 per cent of the coastline. http://www.rangelandswa.com.au
Teresa Belcher, Communications Manager
Rangelands NRM, WA
Tel: 08 9468 5250
Mobile: 0488 594324