Restoring the Ecology of an Estuary

This is the story of how a community rose to the challenge of restoring a degraded waterway.

From the turn of the century, local people had wared of changes occurring in the Peel-Harvey, the largest estuary on Australia’s western coast. By the late 1970’s, scientists were describing this once-pristine waterway as ‘a biological desert’. The journey to recovery has been long and difficult, involving a combined effort from all sections of the community.

This book celebrates that journey. It tells how an immense rescue program was swung into place; how scientists and local people struggled to discover the causes of the estuary’s problem; how unique solutions were found and implemented; how a community came to terms with major changes in their thinking and in their working lives.

Peel-Harvey was put together by people who have been at the core of the recovery effort, who learned their lessons the hard way. Perhaps their experiences will smooth the way for other communities, other waterways.

Peel-Harvey ‘The Decline and Rescue of an Ecosystem’ is available at the Pinjarra and Mandurah Libraries. Copies are also available to purchase from the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council. Proceeds from the sale of this book are used for environmental education programs in the Peel region.

1 – How Good it Was
2 – An Estuary Forms
3 – Arrival of Europeans
4 – Early Settlement in the Peel-Harvey
5 – Fishing in the Estuary
6 – The First Protection
7 – Prawning and Crabbing
8 – Rivers, Wetlands and Drainage – Early Days
9 – Wetlands Drained and Rivers Cleared
10 – Weed Take Hold
11 – Local Concern Grows
12 – Analysis Paralysis
13 – Fumbling Forward
14 – Fertilising Farms, Not the Estuary
15 – Sifting Options
16 – The Development Divide
17 – Assessing Dawesville
18 – Catchment Battlelines
19 – Working with Farmers
20 – The Cut Happens
21 – Stories of Hope
22 – Unfinished Business