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Waterways to benefit from greater cooperation on drainage

Attendees at the Peel-Harvey Drainage Symposium represented 23 organisations directly working on the region’s drains and waterways

Despite the lack of rain over past months, there was plenty of talk about flowing water at the Peel-Harvey Drainage Mini-Symposium held on the 9th May in Mandurah.

The Symposium, organised by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), was convened to encourage greater collaboration between government, industry, researchers and community groups who are working on a range of projects to restore and transform the Peel Region’s rural drainage system.

The system, which includes many drains dug during the Great Depression, was established to reduce the risk of flooding and excessive waterlogging to settlement and farming.  The drains mean that rain falling in Byford, Pinjarra and Harvey quickly ends up in the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey Rivers and ultimately our waterways at Mandurah. Drains are like the veins that connect our catchment to the waterways and Estuary at Mandurah.

‘Rural drainage is something that we don’t often think about, but it is very important to our Region’, said Marilyn Gray, Acting Chairperson of PHCC. ‘Drainage has enabled our region to be settled, farmed and developed. However, we now know it also provides a fast-track for nutrients and pollutants to enter our waterways and Estuary, leading to algal blooms and fish kills in the lower Serpentine and Murray Rivers.

‘We need to do more to transform the region’s drainage network to ensure it not only continues to protect land from flooding, but also filters out the nutrients and pollutants in stormwater before it enters our waterways and Estuary. Restoring our drains to more natural living waterways is one effective approach.

The great news is that today’s Symposium presented numerous solutions which can be implemented by government, industry, developers, landholders and the community.  Drains can be transformed to trap more nutrients, hold back water for agricultural use and even restore wetlands for wildlife’ said Ms Gray. ‘We now need to implement these exciting solutions strategically across the catchment, including on farms and where land is developed for urban, commercial or industrial use’.

The Symposium attendees also learnt of how drainage water is increasingly being regarded as a resource that may be able to be used in future agriculture and industry in the region.

‘Our drying climate is making all water, including water in drains, even more precious. This makes demonstrating the economic value of transforming our drainage systems a little easier’.

‘We have been heartened by the State Government’s new approach to drainage developed over the past few years and look forward to working even more closely with the Water Corporation, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and local governments over coming years’ said Ms Gray.

The one-day Symposium featured fourteen speakers on topics as varied as design of new drainage systems, tracking the flow of nutrients in drains, waterway restoration, and construction of small weirs on drains.

‘The Water Corporation was pleased to be involved in the symposium to improve drainage in the Peel-Harvey region,’ said Suzanne Brown, Water Corporation Manager for Drainage and Liveable Communities.

‘Water quality in drains is a shared responsibility, so it’s encouraging to see more and more conversation around what we can all do to help.’

The Symposium was made possible by the support of the Water Corporation, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the City of Mandurah.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Millions of Native Animals Destroyed By Killer Cats

WA Feral Cat Symposium – May 31st Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

Recent studies suggest that the Australian feral cat population fluctuates between 1.4 to 5.6 million. Astoundingly feral cats are responsible for killing more than 1 million birds, more than 1 million reptiles, and more than 1 million mammals in Australia EVERY DAY.

That’s more than 900 million native animals killed by feral cats every single year. This is according to Dr John Woinarski, a Professor at Charles Darwin University, Deputy Director of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, and a speaker at the Feral Cat Symposium in Mandurah on 31st May.

This event will bring the nation’s leading researchers, conservation groups, and government together to discuss this difficult but important issue.

This event has been made possible thanks to funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, and thanks to the following partners and sponsors: NRM WA, City of Mandurah, WA Biodiversity Science Institute, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, Wheatbelt NRM, and the South West Catchments Council.

Numbats are Western Australia’s state mammal emblem and one of our most endearing small mammals.

Dryandra Woodland, located in the heart of the Peel-Harvey Catchment, is “home” to one of the only two remaining natural populations of numbats (Myrmecobius fasciatus) in the world. Unfortunately, numbats are easy prey for feral cats which are one of the key threats to their survival.

The Dryandra Woodland, is the single largest remnant of original vegetation in the western wheatbelt, and provides habitat for a wide range of native species. Scientists monitor the numbats in the forest. A network of cameras has shown that feral cats are responsible for past losses of numbats.

The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) supports efforts to restore the numbat population. A significant focus is working with farmers surrounding Dryandra to undertake feral cat control. Recent feedback has suggested more than 100 feral cats have been captured on private land in the district in the last 12-18 months, and there are many more cats! However, there are some encouraging signs and numbat numbers are stabilising which is a great result for the community, and the numbats.

The Feral Cat Symposium will highlight the impacts and share experiences from across Australia.

There are many good examples of successful feral cat control programs operating across WA and elsewhere in Australia, and there are important lessons and techniques to be shared amongst practitioners.” said PHCC Chairman Andy Gulliver.

The symposium will explore current experience and innovative future techniques for feral cat control.

The Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box will talk on the Australian Government’s perspective, and the importance of managing the threat of feral cats to a number of Threatened Species listed under Australian Government legislation. The Australian Government suggests that feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia, including WA’s bilby, bandicoot, bettong and numbat, and have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals.

Representatives from the State Government will talk about legislation and regulations which affect feral cat control in WA. With proposed changes to the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (BAM) Act, 2007, it is a good time to be discussing how this may affect future feral cat control efforts.

We have been fortunate to obtain a number of prominent and leading experts involved in research and on-ground control of feral cats, and we strongly believe the calibre of presenters and panel members will result in a constructive and robust discussion giving audience members a fascinating insight into this important issue and leave the community better prepared to tackle the scourge of feral cats across WA”, said Andy Gulliver.

Early bird tickets for this event are available up until the 14th May. See website at www.waferalcatsymposium.com for event and registration details.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Technology creates new wetland art

Winner of the Wetlands from Above Photography competition. Photo taken by Natalie Goddard at Creery Wetlands

Visitors to the Cape Bouvard Winery/Brewery in Lake Clifton on the weekend enjoyed a display of aerial photos and videos that showcase the beauty of the Peel Region’s wetlands and waterways.

The visual display brought together the work of two projects by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council and City of Mandurah: a drone photo competition ‘Wetlands from Above’ and the Stretch Art Festival’s ‘Hydrodome’.

The ‘Wetlands from Above’ competition, organised by the PHCC, saw local drone operators compete to take their best aerial shots of the wetlands of the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar Wetlands. Competition winners Natalie Goddard (first prize), Ryan Chatfield and Michael Bond provided spectacular images of the wetlands.

‘Drones are part of the disruption revolution helping scientists and natural resource managers monitor and assess the environment.  It’s been great to see drones also have an artistic side giving us a creative bird’s eye view of our amazing wetlands’, said PHCC chairperson Andy Gulliver. ‘Telling the story of our environment through art allows the community to connect with nature in new ways. We hope the photos encourage people to do their bit to protect the beauty that surrounds us.’

Competition photos were shown throughout the evening on a huge LED screen set to the sounds of live acoustic and jazz performances by local musicians Danny Bau and the Mahara Tocker trio.

The Wetlands from Above photos were complemented by a spectacular night-time light, sound and video artwork called the Hydrodome – a Stretch Arts Festival project.

Standing 6 m tall, the semi-spherical Hydrodome provided a 360 degree screen for a digital film inspired by Mandurah’s relationship with water. It has involved the work of artists Justin Wiggan (UK), Bernadette Lewis and David Carson and has engaged over 100 people from the Mandurah community who have contributed to the content of the film and soundscape.

Two domes, one viewed from outside and another from the inside, will be star attractions at this year’s Stretch Arts Festival on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May,  Mandjar Square, Ormsby Terrace Mandurah.

City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams was impressed with how the Hydrodome Project and the Wetlands from Above competition were encouraging the community to take a closer look at our local wetlands and environment.

‘This year’s Stretch Festival is another opportunity for everyone to get out and enjoy the artistic sights and sounds of Mandurah with friends and family, and appreciate our beautiful wetlands and waterways’ said Mayor Williams.

The evening was made possible by the PHCC through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program. The Hydrodome is part of the City of Mandurah’s Stretch Arts Festival.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Plastic shopping bag phase out needs to go further….another 35 microns further

PHCC’s Jesse Rowley, volunteer Matthew Read and PHCC’s Jordon Garbellini

The PHCC has welcomed the end to light-weight plastic shopping bags to be introduced in WA on 1 July 2018 and hopes it will lead to the complete end of single use plastic shopping bags in the next 2 years.

The 1 July ban to be implemented by state government will make it illegal for shops to provide plastic bags which are less than 35 microns.  A micron is one-millionth of a metre, and bags less than 35 microns are what we currently see at most checkouts.

The PHCC wants the ban to extend to all plastic shopping bags that are less than 70 microns thick so that retailers and shoppers are strongly discouraged from shifting from thin plastic to glossy thick plastic bags that may still be available after 1 July under the government’s current plans.

We want to see a complete shift away from single use plastic shopping bags in the long term, said PHCC Chairperson Andy Gulliver.  Government and community leaders need to support and encourage the use of re-useable shopping bags that can be used over and over again.  This is a simple action that each and every one of us can do to look after the environment, everyday!

At present, plastic shopping bags and other plastic products are littering our beautiful environment and don’t degrade any time soon, especially in a landfill.  And when plastics get into the Estuary and marine environment, they can injure and kill wildlife, and get incorporated into the food chain.

Local community groups in the Peel-Harvey Catchment are frustrated by the amount of plastic litter that is ending up on foreshores, beaches, roadsides and bushland.  In one 2 km stretch of Coodanup foreshore for example, volunteers collected 127 plastic packaging items in one rubbish pickup event in 2017, of which 60% were plastic bags.

So important is the issue that the Mandurah-based Youth on Leadership group has devised a campaign to raise community awareness on the impacts of single use plastics on the local environment and what can be done to reduce reliance on single use plastics.

It’s fantastic to see the Youth in Leadership Group’s Heal Peel campaign being developed, said Andy.  Young people are showing us adults the way with their marketing campaign. We hope that the State Government puts as much effort and enthusiasm into a state-wide awareness-raising campaign, with a much bigger budget of course.

Other states have shown that a 35 micron bag ban doesn’t necessary reduce the amount of plastic bag litter, and in SA and NT it has been shown to make little if any difference. That’s why the government needs to get to a 70 micron bag ban, and follow it up with a strong public awareness campaign, said Andy.  The key messages are: bring your re-useable bags to the shops, store them in the car when not in use, and don’t litter our beautiful state!

The PHCC’s submission to the State Government’s Plastic Bag Ban Discussion Paper can be found here

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Community Caring for Bandicoot Brook

Waroona District High School’s Bush Rangers have adopted Bandicoot Reserve as a study area

Look what’s happening at Bandicoot Brook! With a little help from the students at Waroona District High School, the Coolup Land Conservation District Committee (LCDC) will continue a project to protect rare flora and Nationally listed TEC’s.

The National Landcare Program funded Community Environment Grant was awarded to Coolup LCDC in June this year to help build on weed management activities started in 2014 as part of the Bandicoot Brook Reserve restoration program. Colleen Archibald, NRM Support Officer, based at the Waroona Landcare Centre provides the Coolup LCDC with guidance and support.

A 68ha linear reserve of remnant vegetation, Bandicoot Brook Reserve provides an important linkage between the Murray River in the east and the Peel-Harvey Estuary in the west. The reserve is home to critically endangered clay pan communities,  including three Nationally listed TEC (Threatened Ecological Communities) and 18 species of rare and priority flora. The site is a window into what much of the eastern Swan Coast Plain would have looked like prior to European settlement.

Serious weed invasion from bulbous and grass weeds is the main threat to the reserve. The Coolup LCDC are supporting the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, with activities aiming to implement strategic and effective weed control, encouraging native plant regeneration and improving the condition of the surrounding clay pan communities.

Bandicoot Brook Reserve is a perfect site for both education and community activities. The Waroona District High School Year 9 Bushranger’s class have adopted the reserve as their study area. Educational field trips will be held throughout the project, focusing on the importance of the wetlands and woodlands of the Pinjarra Plain.  Regular community walks, talks and hands-on management activities with schools and the wider community will raise awareness of the values of Bandicoot Brook Reserve and the importance of the wetlands and woodlands of the Pinjarra and Swan Coastal Plain.

This project is supported through the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

 

Grant helps protect world-class environment at Lake Clifton

PHCC’s Jane O’Malley, Lake Clifton-Herron Landcare Group’s Nancy Fardin and Jenny Rose with Keith Armstrong, Neil Blake and Neil Richards from the Department of Environment and Energy

One of Western Australia’s most important wetlands has been given a boost, with funding from the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council helping to protect the fragile environment at Lake Clifton.

The PHCC has provided almost $10,000 to the Lake Clifton-Herron Landcare Group through round two of their Community Environment Grants, enabling the group to carry out on-ground activities across a stretch of shoreline at the lake.

The Lake Clifton-Herron Landcare group used some of the funds to carry out a weed survey which is now informing a weed control programme which will take place shortly. A further $15,730 of funding is committed through Phase two of the PHCC Community Environment grants, and will go towards implementing weed control at the site.

“The weed survey will also help inform an action plan for the lake, and this will need to be considered carefully to get the best result for future projects,” Jenny Rose from the Lake Clifton-Herron Landcare Group said.

Lake Clifton is one of the most valuable environmental sites in the City of Mandurah, Shire of Waroona and broader Peel Region and is part of the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar system, which is a Ramsar wetland of international significance.

 “The Lake Clifton-Herron Landcare Group has been working hard for many years to protect the lake by managing weeds and the survey is assisting to focus priority actions to achieve the group’s vision, which is to restore the Lake’s shoreline vegetation to a more natural state.” PHCC CEO Jane O’Malley said.

Removing weeds will help clear the way for future planting programs to re-establish a native buffer of vegetation, which provides habitat for local and international migratory shorebirds and the small organisms on which the Shorebirds birds feed on.

The vegetation buffer also filters unwanted nutrients from water, stopping them entering the lake and upsetting the natural balance of the ecosystem, which is critical to the threatened federally listed Thrombolites, which have existed over thousands of years at Lake Clifton and are iconic to the Peel Harvey region.

This project is supported through the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Farmers 4 Fauna Project: Partnership Announcement

Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) in Dryandra Woodland (photo courtesy of Rob McLean from Numbat Taskforce)

22 January 2018…An exciting partnership project between the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and Project Numbat is providing support to landholders near the Dryandra Woodland to control feral animals on their properties to protect threatened native animals.

Dryandra Woodland is a National Park and is located in the upper reaches of the Peel-Harvey catchment, straddling the Shires of Narrogin, Cuballing, Williams and Wandering. The woodland is one of WA’s most valuable nature conservation reserves as it is home to unique native flora and fauna species, including the threatened woylie (Bettongia penicillata) and Western Australia’s state mammal emblem, the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus).  Dryandra is the largest remnant of original vegetation in the western wheatbelt and the only area left in WA where Numbats live where they have not been re-introduced.  The former Threatened Species Commissioner had a particular affinity with our Numbats and, in putting their vulnerability into context, used to quote that Numbats are rarer than Black Rhino’s.

Numbats are one of the 20 mammals identified in the Commonwealth Government’s Threatened Species Strategy. The Strategy acknowledges the role farmers and private landholders play in the conservation of our native animals and it has an ambitious target of culling 2 million feral cats across Australia by 2020.

Monitoring at Dryandra shows that feral cats and foxes are coming into the woodland through adjacent bushland and farmland areas, and woylie and numbat populations were continuing to decline. In response the DBCA introduced the Dryandra Numbat Woylie (Predator Control) project in 2015 and began working with the community, and collaborating with neighbouring landowners to assist to protect these iconic mammals.  The Predator Control project enabled some complementary feral predator control initiatives to be introduced in addition to the ongoing baiting to control foxes. The Farmers 4 Fauna is enabling greater support for Farmers to be involved, with over 70 Farmers attending the launch of the project.

The PHCC and Project Numbat are now engaging with surrounding landholders who are enthusiastic about playing a significant role in the protection of our native animals through the Farmers 4 Fauna project. By applying this coordinated approach across public and private land, PHCC, DBCA, Project Numbat and the Farming community aim to increase the number of native animals in, and around the Park and minimise  risks to agriculture from disease and predation by foxes and feral cats.

The Farmers 4 Fauna project is already seeing the Farming community band together towards this common goal.  Farmers around Dryandra now have access to free cat traps and 1080 baits which have been provided to the Shires of Cuballing, Narrogin, Wandering and Williams.  Training and licensing support is also being provided, as well as events and field days which will continue to bring the Farming community together to share information and success stories. Monitoring will continue to assess the impact of the actions and focus efforts to areas of most need.

PHCC Chairman Andy Gulliver said – “The Farmers 4 Fauna project is a great example of how successful partnerships can achieve fantastic things for our community and our environment. This project will result in meaningful support for some of our most treasured native species, in one of the most significant bushland remnants remaining across the West Australian Wheatbelt. We thank both the DBCA and Project Numbat for all their hard work in the development and initiation of this great project, and our Farming community for their enthusiasm in playing a key role in protecting our native animals”.

This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Bird Walk and Talk at Lake Yalgorup

Golo Maurer, Key Biodiversity Area Program Manager from Birdlife Australia logging his observations using Birdata.

18 January 2018….A keen group of bird enthusiasts and curious community members recently joined specialists from Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, BirdLife Australia and the Mandurah Bird Observers Group at the beautiful Lake Yalgorup to discover more about this diverse wetland and its migratory and resident bird populations.

13 people from the local community were lucky enough to share an early morning “Walk and Talk” at Lake Yalgorup led by Golo Maurer from BirdLife Australia along with Bill Russell and Bob Patterson from the Mandurah Bird Observers Group. This was a great chance for the group to spend a couple of hours bird-watching and enjoy a morning tea information session about the value of bird-watching survey data and how it will help Birdlife gain insight and protect Australia’s bird species.

Lake Yalgorup, a stunning wetland nestled in the Yalgorup National Park just south of Mandurah, is one of many lakes which make up the Peel-Yalgorup Wetland System. The 26,500 hectare wetland system, including Lake Yalgorup, is a designated wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention (Ramsar Site 482) and is renowned as the largest and most diverse estuarine system in southern WA.

By organising this event at Lake Yalgorup, PHCC hope to introduce residents from Mandurah and the broader catchment area to bird-watching, meet and connect with experienced bird-watchers, promote the beauty and attractions of the Peel-Yalgorup wetland system and share information about the importance of bird-watching.

Beginning the Bird Walk and Talk at Martins Tank campsite, the group braved wet weather to explore the bushland around Lake Yalgorup.  As experienced bird-watchers eager to share their knowledge and expertise, Golo, Bill and Bob talked with the group about the diverse wetland, local bird species, and how individuals and groups can take part in bird monitoring. Despite the poor weather conditions, the group enjoyed the experience, soaking up (pardon the pun!) the beauty of the surrounding landscape and spotting twelve different species of birds.

During the morning tea information session, Golo demonstrated how to complete a bird survey using the innovative citizen science App, Birdata. Birdata is a gateway to BirdLife Australia data where users can draw bird distribution maps, generate bird lists for any part of the country and also submit survey information to this important environmental database. The group entered their sightings for the day on Birdata, with a few of them downloading the App and entering the survey data themselves.

Golo also talked about BirdLife’s Guardian program, another citizen science initiative where people and groups can register to become guardians of Key Biodiversity Areas and take part in annual Easter Health Checks which report on the condition of an area. By becoming a guardian of Key Biodiversity Areas and using the mobile App Birdata, community members are able to contribute to a pool of valuable scientific data and create a snapshot of an area helping BirdLife and other environmental organisations protect bird species and their habitat.

PHCC plans to organise more events just like this in the future. If you’re interested in learning about birds and how to bird-watch, please register your interest by emailing admin@peel-harvey.org.au

Andy Gulliver from PHCC said, “Yalgorup Lake is a part of the Peel-Yalgorup System, a wetland of international importance listed Ramsar 482 site. The ecologically diverse site is recognised for its migratory and wetland birds and PHCC is pleased assist in connecting residents with an opportunity to learn about this unique environment and try their hand at bird-watching. Bird monitoring plays a crucial part in conserving this special area. We are thrilled to able to introduce new people to these groups and to the many opportunities for them to play a role in citizen science projects that make a valuable contribution to conservation of the Peel-Yalgorup Wetland.”

To find out more about Birdlife, Birdata and Key Biodiversity Areas please visit the following link at https://birdata.birdlife.org.au/

The Bird Walk and Talk at Lake Yalgorup was supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

 

ARC Linkage Project, Key to Estuary Protection

Dr Alan Cottingham and Dr Chris Hallett from Murdoch University and PHCC’s Dr Steve Fisher

2 January 2018…Have you heard about the latest progress in the ARC-Linkage Project? Peel-Harvey Catchment Council is a partner on an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project titled, Balancing estuarine and societal health in a changing environment; a project led by internationally recognised experts, right here in our backyard. The project team involves more than twenty people from four universities, two State Government departments, two local governments and PHCC.

Much of the 4000 km of our local waterways on the Swan Coastal Plain is degraded due to past and present management practices in our catchment. These practices including inappropriate land uses, alteration of natural watercourses and construction of artificial drains have created sediment and reduced water quality in the catchment which, in turn, can lead to algal blooms or fish kills in the lower reaches of the rivers (such as those that occurred in the Murray River in the autumn of 2017) and in the estuary itself.

The ARC Linkage project investigates the links between catchment management and downstream effects and will use this information to predict changes in estuary health in response to changes in catchment land uses and estuary management. The research will also produce a report card of the current condition of the Peel-Harvey estuary.

Information gathering and water quality monitoring is underway across the estuary and wider catchment. This research will guide decision-making across our catchment, including the internationally recognised Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar wetlands site.

The Peel Estuary ARC-Linkage Project commenced in 2016 and will conclude in 2019.

Research Team and Partners

The research team is led by Fiona Valesini and Chris Hallett of Murdoch University and Matt Hipsey from University of WA along with scientists from Southern Cross University (NSW), University of Hull (UK) and the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. Partner Organisations are PHCC, WA Department of Premier and Cabinet, the City of Mandurah and the Shire of Murray.

The Partners and Research Team contributed $640,000 in cash and $1.9M in-kind to the project which was used to lever a $541,000 contribution from the Australian Research Council.

Producing a report card for the Peel-Harvey estuary system, and models to predict the future condition of the estuary, are important to all the partner organisations. The report cards will allow waterways managers and the community to assess the condition of our rivers and estuaries.

The PHCC’s Science Advisor, Steve Fisher represents the PHCC. His main role is to link related regional activities and facilitate scientific discussions between the Research Team and the Partner Organisations.

Marina Development at Point Grey

The proposed Point Grey Marina development is a timely example of the need to assess the current condition of a site prior to development.  The marina proposal, which includes dredging and maintaining a navigation channel across the northern end of the Harvey estuary, was approved in 2012, conditional to works commencing by 1 August 2017. This 5-year “time limit for authorisation” has lapsed.

On 26 September 2017, PHCC made a submission to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) opposing an extension to the time limit. PHCC contend that the estuarine water quality, the threatened ecological community of samphire marshes, seagrass coverage and shorebird habitat will all be adversely affected by the development. The PHCC submission is based on a better understanding of the consequences of disturbing sediments through dredging and operation of the marina. This better understanding was gained since the proposal was initially authorised by the EPA in 2012.

The effects of the proposed Point Grey Marina on the health of the estuary have been difficult to predict in the past due to a lack of baseline data.  The ARC-Linkage project has been invaluable in targeting knowledge gaps that currently hinder evidence-based decision making.  When complete, the estuary report card and models will help to assess the impact of potential developments on the health of the estuary.

PHCC SHARE Event

Considerable community concern over the adverse environmental impacts of the proposed marina, and the focus of the ARC-Linkage project on measuring the condition of the estuary, prompted PHCC to host a SHARE event (Social Help, Action and Resources for Environment) in September to inform and involve our community. About 40 members of the community attended this event where members of the research team, Fiona Valesini, Matt Hipsey and Karl Hennig (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation), presented an overview of the project, their research findings so far and a history of development and landuses and environmental issues, including fish kills, since the 1800s.

PHCC organises four SHARE events per year, in March, May, July and September, at their offices in Mandurah.  The SHARE in May 2018 will focus on the causes and response to fish kills in Peel-Harvey waterways.

Team effort

The combined effort of the scientists and partners achieves more than individual organisations working on separate projects. This team effort enables managers of the Peel-Harvey estuary to make more informed decisions based on scientific evidence.

It is hoped that high profile projects such as this will attract other leading scientists and environmental experts to the Peel Region. Future growth in scientific research will enhance current efforts, helping to minimise the impacts of urban and other developments on the valuable and unique environmental assets of the Peel-Harvey estuary and catchment.

This research was partially funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council.

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

Winner of 2017 John Oldham Conservation Employee Award

PHCC’s Thelma Crook

20 December 2017…Thelma Crook is the worthy recipient of the 2017 John Oldham Conservation Employee Award, in recognition of outstanding commitment and dedication in working for the protection of Western Australia’s Environment. The award was presented by former Premier of WA and Conservation Council WA President, Carmen Lawrence on Saturday 18 November.

Thelma has dedicated almost 30 years to working and volunteering on environmental projects in the Peel-Harvey Region. As the PHCC Program Manager, Thelma played an integral part in securing more than $4 million in funding, guiding significant on-ground works, bringing key partners together and engaging the community.  Building and fostering partnerships with local Noongar groups, Thelma has earned a great amount of respect and is much cared for by our Noongar and overall community.

Colleagues, friends and partners of PHCC would like congratulate Thelma on winning the 2017 John Oldham Award and, as a highly regarded team member, extend their thanks to Thelma for her years of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm.

An esteemed professional, a caring community member and a keen advocate for environmental action, Thelma embodies the true spirit of the PHCC’s motto, “People Working Together for a Healthy Environment”.

Congratulations Thelma!

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800

 

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present

 

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2012 Western Australian Environment Awards Winner