Biodiversity assessments strike a chord with community

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region’s new biodiversity assessments are proving a hit, with landholders and businesses signing up to help protect nature and biodiversity on their properties.

The region’s peak environment group last month launched a new professional services arm – which includes an on-ground team focused on bushland management through revegetation and weed control, plus a biodiversity officer specialising in biodiversity assessments and plans for revegetation and controlling weeds.

Biodiversity officer Cass Jury has hit the ground running and already carried out biodiversity and Land for Wildlife assessments for some of the Margaret River region’s big names, including Voyager Estate, Howard Park Wines and the South West Catchments Council.

“A biodiversity assessment is the vital first step for protecting native vegetation and wildlife,” says Ms Jury.

“When we assess a property’s biodiversity, we look at vegetation and waterway condition, habitat values, connectivity to other areas of remnant vegetation, and what current and future threats exist, such as invasive weeds or feral animals. Then we do a plan for how the landholder can successfully protect the biodiversity that remains or rebuild what’s been lost. Biodiversity in our region is facing a lot of threats, but these assessments are the first step to understanding and then giving nature a helping hand at your place.”

Howard Park Wines workers planted 350 native seedlings along Wilyabrup Brook which runs through its property following a Nature Conservation biodiversity assessment. “This was the first step towards our long-term plan to protect and enhance our unique biodiversity,” Howard Park environmental officer Chris McAtee said.

“Nature Conservation informed us that the largest contributors to biodiversity decline are habitat loss and fragmentation. This has seen many fauna species become rare and restricted in range. Cass surveyed our remnant bushland and identified areas to prioritise and improve to promote connectivity through the property. The main channel of the Wilyabrup Brook and its tributary were identified as especially vital for providing a wildlife corridor for species like the Western Ringtail possum and so this is where our work began.”

Nature Conservation general manager Drew McKenzie said the group was best known for its youth education programs and environmental initiatives like the Arum Lily Blitz, For Nature bushland management, Caring for Coast, and community planting days, workshops and events, and these remain the focus. “Many landholders come to us with great intentions for their property but need help to better understand their biodiversity values and how best to support the environment and we’ve responded to that need. Importantly the assessment benchmarks the current condition to help landholders monitor the impact of their actions,” Mr McKenzie said.

Biodiversity assessments represent a valuable tool for vineyards, larger rural properties and even smaller rural residential properties. Nature Conservation remains a registered not-for-profit group and any income generated by the professional services team is reinvested in the organisation and its community-based environmental programs.

“Importantly, we can follow through and assist landholders with the implementation of on-ground work to protect and enhance nature on their property, whether it’s controlling invasive weeds, replanting with natives or erosion control,” Mr McKenzie said.

“This is an important step to build our capacity in a way that isn’t vulnerable to short-lived funding cycles. We’ve added a passionate and experienced team who can help landholders make a positive contribution on their property, to the highest environmental standards and representing great value for money.”

In addition to biodiversity assessments, Nature Conservation’s new on-ground team – which employs bush regenerators Nathan Hammer and Jackson Res – has also been busy, working on the Arum Lily Blitz and doing revegetation and weed control for private landholders including the Moses Rock Ecology Trust.

To book or get a quote for a biodiversity assessment or work by the on-ground team, contact Nature Conservation at (08) 9757 2202 or email Drew at [email protected]

biodiversity assessments