Achievements in the Region

Achievements in the Region

Since 2015, there have been a number of major achievements in the field of natural resource management in the Swan Region. This Report celebrates some of the achievements seen across the Region over the past two years. This not an exhaustive list, and is a drop in the natural resource management pool. The report does identify is the need for further refinement and direction to address the priorities of action outlined in the Implementation Plan. Together we can ensure our collective responsibilities, efforts and investment can continue the progression of sustainable and effective natural resource management.

Swan NRM Report

Below are some case studies celebrating the success of NRM in the Swan Region.

Perth Biodiversity Project

In 2001, the Perth Biodiversity Project (PBP) was launched to assist local governments to strategically plan for the retention, protection and management of Perth’s biodiversity. The PBP was delivered by the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) in partnership with 31 local governments, the Department for Planning and Infrastructure and the Swan Catchment Council (Perth Region NRM), along with funding from the Commonwealth Government’s $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust (NHT). The project supported local government biodiversity conservation efforts in the Swan Region through direct financial aid for on-ground works and capacity building projects, as well as providing expert and technical information, advice and aid for local biodiversity planning.

In 2004, WALGA published the Local Government Biodiversity Planning Guidelines for the Perth Metropolitan Region which have been endorsed by the Environmental Protection Authority and the Western Australia Planning Commission. The Guidelines included templates for natural area assessments for recording ecological values and management issues for bushland reserves managed by local government. To date, sixteen local governments in the Perth Metropolitan Region with more than 20 hectares of bushland reserves under their management have used the Natural Area Initial Assessment (NAIA) templates to record their ecological values and management issues.

In 2010 the Perth Biodiversity Project was awarded the United Nations Association of Australia (Victoria Division) (UNAA) World Environment Day Award. The Award acknowledged their continuous effort in assisting local government in the internationally recognised global hotspot for biodiversity conservation and a commitment to effective conservation at the local level.

Dedicated volunteers often conduct bird surveys in hopes to support local biodiversity plans and strategies.

Urban Nature Program and Bush Forever

Urban Nature was the name given to the ‘Bush Forever Management Advisory Service’ and was established in 2004 to provide technical advice and on-ground support in the Swan Region including the Perth hills and Peel region. Now run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Urban Nature Program provides technical advice and on-ground support for land managers working to protect, manage and restore bushlands and wetlands in the department’s Swan region and beyond. The on-ground work and research at demonstration sites includes Bush Forever sites and other regionally significant bushland. To date, Urban Nature has had direct involvement in the management of 17 sites and has provided technical advice for a further 41 sites.

Urban Nature liaises with more than 60 stakeholders and produces a quarterly newsletter, Bushland News, which is posted to just under 2,000 stakeholders. Since 2004, the Urban Nature Program has produced 10 scientific publications, 50 newsletter articles, delivered over 60 presentations and produced a series of brochures, workshop proceedings and reports. It has developed a database that delivers up-to-date biology and control information on 300 species of the most serious weeds in the Region to stakeholders across the State and developed standard procedures for mapping weeds in bushland and wetlands.

Urban Nature builds awareness to community, government and organisations as to the importance and uniqueness of the regions ecosystems and reserves.

Swan River Trust and Alcoa Landcare Program

Established in 1988, the Swan River Trust and Alcoa Landcare Program (SALP) is one of Western Australia’s longest running metropolitan environmental care programs. A unique partnership between Alcoa of Australia, the Swan River Trust and Perth Region NRM, the Program provides funding to community groups and local governments working in partnership with community, for on-ground works to protect surface and groundwater and biodiversity across the Swan Region.

Over the last sixteen years, SALP has supported over 1000 projects involving 175 community groups. Key achievements of the program include:

2 million trees planted;

1,700 hectares of land rehabilitated and revegetated;

6000km of fencing; and

155,000 volunteer hours, worth $3 million.

SALP is an excellent example of collaborative efforts between industry, government, researchers and community to protect and conserve our environment.


Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery

The Western Swamp Tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina) is Australia’s most critically endangered reptile. Originally identified from a single specimen collected in 1839, the species was feared extinct for more than a century, until a small population was rediscovered in the early 1950’s. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, the number of tortoises dropped from more than 300 to less than 50. The modification and clearing of its preferred habitat, shallow seasonal swamps, for urban development and the introduction of feral predators (foxes, cats, dogs and pigs) have taken the species to the brink of extinction.

In 1988, Dr Gerald Kuchling from the then Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), initiated a recovery program. Since that time, Perth Zoo has bred more than 800 Western Swamp Tortoises, DEC has undertaken intensive habitat management, and 600 tortoises have been translocated and released into the wild. Perth Zoo’s on-site breeding facility is also home to an insurance population of around 150–200 Western Swamp Tortoises. The combined efforts of universities, state agencies, the Perth Zoo, conservation groups and the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise have ensured this unique Perth icon continues to survive on the Swan Coastal Plain.

From a population of less than 50, more than 600 tortoises have been released back to the wild.

Dieback Management

The biodiversity of the Swan Region is internationally recognised, particularly the floral assemblages. The introduction of the infectious Phytophthora pathogen has resulted in habitat transformation, with over 45% of the floral species now under threat. For plant species that are susceptible, the infection causes root death, preventing the plant from taking up water and nutrients. This causes the plant to “dieback” and then eventually die. The effects of Phytophthora dieback across the Region and the south-west has been dramatic, threatening biodiversity and affecting plant stock used in forestry, horticulture and nursery industries. It has been estimated that Phytophthora dieback will cost the national economy $1.6 billion over the next ten years.

The Dieback Working Group (DWG) was formed in 1996 by local governments, community groups and state government land management agencies concerned with the management of Phytophthora dieback in Western Australia. The Dieback Working Group works with local governments, community groups, industry and other stakeholders to increase the awareness and understanding of Phytophthora dieback and promote best management practices. The collective on ground effort in dealing with phytophthora has resulted in the:

Training and mentoring of over 3000 individual stakeholders, government representatives, tertiary students and community members in Phytophthora dieback management;

Treatment of thousands of hectares of bushland with high impact phosphite treatment;

Mapping of 60 vulnerable reserves that cover an area in excess of 2000 hectares; and

Application of fungicide treatment in more than 50 reserves.

Through initiatives such as the Dieback Education Kit, Regional Phytophthora Atlas and the annual Dieback Information Group (DIG) conference, the project has increased awareness and knowledge and supported a coordinated approach to dieback management in the Region.

Innovative solutions to prevent dieback infection include administering tree injections to susceptible species.

Coastcare Program

The Coastcare model has been highly effective at engaging industry, state agencies, schools and the broader community in coastal restoration. Delivered through partnerships between PRNRM and seven local governments, the program has attracted high profile investors such as Synergy, BHP Billiton, Woodside, Chevron and British Petroleum (BP).

With the help of more than 2000 volunteers, the Swan Region Coastcare Program has planted over 60,000 natives in the coastal dunes. Cottesloe, Cambridge and Stirling beaches, as well as coastal areas of Joondalup in the north and Cockburn Sound to the south have all been key focal points for Coastcare restoration work.  The Challenger Beach Coastal Rehabilitation Project is a three year Community Partnership between the City of Kwinana and the Alcoa Kwinana Refinery which aims to improve the habitat of the threatened Quenda.

Since the mid-1990’s, Coastcare has become the template for effective natural resource management and is a model for how local environmental problems can be addressed through collaboration and community action.

Coastcare has become the template for building collaborative efforts in coastal management.

Noongar Trails

A number of Noongar Trails have been established across the Region to acknowledge and connect people with the areas rich cultural heritage. The Whadjuk Trail Network connects remnant bushland areas in the western suburbs of Perth and was the result of comprehensive input from the community and the Western Suburbs Regional Organisation of Councils (WESROC) over many years. The network includes a 16.3km Bush to Beach Trail with Quick Response (QR) Codes on the signage allowing users to listen to Aboriginal songs and stories through their mobile phones while they walk the trail.

The Noongar Coastal Trail spans the Western Australian coast from Rockingham in the south to Two Rocks in the north. The Trail highlights the very spiritual and cultural significance of the coastline for Noongar people in the Swan Region. A self-drive trail, significant sites along the coast are marked with commemorative signs that describe the cultural significance and history of the site. The Noongar Coastal Trail is a collaborative project between Perth Region NRM and local councils including the Cities of Nedlands, Kwinana and Fremantle.

The launch of the coastal trails was a celebration of joint success between local governments, the community and NRM groups.

Healthy Rivers Action Plan

The Healthy Rivers Action Plan (HRAP) 2008-13 was a 5-year; $40 million plan to protect the environmental health of the Swan and Canning rivers by improving water quality. The plan, led by the Swan River Trust, used a catchment to coast approach delivering actions through eight programs and in partnership with regional and sub-regional natural resource management groups, State and local governments, industry and the community. The key objectives were to reduce nutrients and contaminants, minimise sediment loads entering the rivers, increase oxygen levels in the rivers, and protect and rehabilitate foreshores.

The plan led to an enormous amount of collaborative effort between key stakeholders to reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into the river system by restoring the catchment and foreshores and improving the health of the Swan and Canning rivers. Key achievements include:

The delivery of 10 Local Water Quality Improvement Plans;

The planting of more than 2.1 million seedlings through-out the Riverpark;

The establishment of a second oxygenation plant on the Swan River;

The establishment of 5 nutrient intervention wetlands in priority catchments;

The provision of advice on 103 strategic planning proposals likely to impact water quality in the Swan Canning river system;

The use of seagrass and fish communities as indicators of estuarine health; and

The involvement of approximately 10,000 school students and teachers in river health and ecosystem management.

The plan is being reviewed in 2014 and the recommendations will be incorporated into future delivery of the programs under the River Protection Strategy.

Swan Canning Water Quality Improvement Plan

In 2006 the Australian Government identified the Swan Canning river system as a coastal “hot spot” and provided funding to develop a Swan Canning Water Quality Improvement Plan (SCWQIP). The SCWQIP was released in December 2009 as a seven year plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loads into the Swan Canning river system.

The plan identifies 41 management actions and uses a ‘treatment train’ approach where management actions are combined along nutrient pathways from their source.  The Swan River Trust has been working in partnership with State government agencies, local government, regional and sub-regional natural resource management groups, industry and the community to implement priority management actions throughout the coastal catchments of the Swan and Canning Rivers.

The SCWQIP has received $7.29 million from the State and Federal government which has so far enabled the:

Design, construction and revegetation of a nutrient stripping wetland in the Ellen Brook Catchment;

Installation of 10km of fencing and planting of over 129, 000 native seedlings;

Trial and evaluation of riparian fencing and revegetation for restricting nutrients from entering waterways;

Application and monitoring of soil amendments in the Ellen Brook Catchment and sub-surface drainage in the Southern River Catchment;

Modelling of nutrient flow and loads from the Avon Basin Catchment;

Continuation of the Phosphorus Awareness Project and Fertilise Wise Training;

Delivery of over 53 community and school based behaviour change workshops;

Delivery of 1,846 audits of 1,118 light to medium sized industrial premises;

Creation of two living streams;

Application of 56 tonnes of nutrient binding material to the Canning River; and

Monitoring of water quality in an additional 15 sub-catchments.

Over 129, 000 native seedlings were planted through out the Riverpark

WA Local Government Association’s Environmental Planning Tool

The WA Local Government Association’s Environmental Planning Tool provides a central platform for environmental planning matters. The tool continues to enable local government officers and other land managers to make decisions and provide advice. Decision support tools such as MCAS-S, INFFER, and Land Gate’s Urban Monitor are also valuable tools for incorporating the latest information into decision-making processes.

The Sediment Task Force

The Sediment Task Force (STF) represents a collaborative approach to managing the issue of sediment. Three local governments and representatives from industry bodies, catchment groups, and State Government are a part of the task force. The taskforce encourages the development of solutions to prevent sediment run-off. The development of guidelines coupled with industrial and community empowerment are achieving a greater understanding and effort to mitigate environmental risks to the regions wetlands.

Light Industry Audit Program

The program of audits, education and enforcement aimed to increase local government capability to regulate light industry under the Environmental Protection Act. The Local Governments and Departments jointly conducted 918 inspections of light industrial premises over the two-year period. Initial inspections showed compliance rates with SME’s was as low as 26.6%. After two years of engagement, education, and re-inspection, premises had improved their compliance rates to 87.5%. Similar initiatives could emulate the program and again target issues affecting the condition of natural assets.

The Drainage for Liveability Program

The Drainage for Liveability Program is a collaborative effort between Water Corporation and Department of Water. The design of the program is to enhance the value of stormwater drains and basins for the community. Stormwater drains and basins serve a functional purpose, but they also have the potential to contribute to the liveability of our local communities. Drainage can enhance the urban environment through greenspace provision, cooling effects, enhanced biodiversity and greater environment and public interaction. Water Corporation and the Department aim to work with interested community groups, local authorities, and the development industry to improve drainage and surface water management and increase green open spaces in our urban environment.

Wirrapanda Foundation and Natural Resource Management

In 2014 – 2015, Noongar students from the Wirrpanda Foundation in Kwinana joined with the City of Kwinana and Perth NRM to progress towards Certificates 1 & 2 in Horticulture at Central TAFE. The students progressed their qualification through on-ground action within wetland and bushland environments, identifying and learning the management of invasive weeds.

The students spent time on-site identifying wetland and bushland weed species, assessing how they affect local biodiversity, agriculture, and native fauna as well as proper control and removal techniques. Another workshop taught students from the Wirrpanda Foundation and ‘The New Opportunities for Women (NOW)’ about recognising and managing Phytophthora Dieback. Working at Bibra Lake Reserve participants learnt to treat Jarrah, Casuarina and Banksia trees with phosphate injections.

Citizen Science and Wildlife Monitoring

The Great Cocky Count (GCC) is an annual citizen science survey for two of the three threatened black‐cockatoo species in the southwest and is popular amongst the community. Since 2010, more than 2,000 people have participated in at least one GCC as a registered volunteer. This makes the Great Cocky Count one of the largest citizen science surveys of its kind in Australia.

In 2016, over 700 registered volunteers surveyed 398 sites across the southwest of WA demonstrating significant community interest. However, with families and groups involved, the total volunteer participation likely exceeded 1,000 community members. The work undertaken by the wider public indicates a minimum population count for Carnaby’s Black‐Cockatoo in the Greater Perth‐Peel Region was 11,418 (around twice the average for 2010‐15).

While the Great Cocky Count is a large and widely popular survey, other species-specific surveys and population counts have happened across the region. The World Wide Fund for Nature in partnership with DPAW conducted Quenda (Isoodon obesulus) and Rakali (Hydromys chrysogaster) surveys across the Swan Region. Community groups hold similar surveys targeting iconic species such as Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) within the Chittering Valley.