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Nature Conservation Margaret River Region’s Environmental Sundowner Series is back with an evening that puts the spotlight on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and how to protect it into the future.

Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park – At a Crossroads will be held at Nala Bardip Mia (Margaret River HEART) on Wallcliffe Rd on May 14 from 5:45pm-8pm. Tickets are $15 for Nature Conservation members and $25 for non-members including a free drink and canapes, and can be booked at HERE.

“The Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park is the most visited national park in the state, and many of us drive through it or visit it almost daily,” says Nature Conservation’s Sundowner Series organiser Jodie Passmore. “With huge increased visitation and the impacts of the changing climate, we need to put our heads together and get to work on ways to protect it.”

Nature Conservation says the national park is home to culturally significant sites, the towering Boranup Forest, threatened fauna and flora species, fragile granite outcrops and is the gateway to the iconic Margaret River coast. But it is also sees more than five million annual visitors, with more than 50 access points and 120km-plus of coastline with heavy recreational use – which makes managing and protecting the park particularly challenging.

“We invite you to be part of this special evening, and we’re curating what will be some engaging and informative perspectives on current and future park management,” says Jodie. “That will be followed by an audience Q&A which promises some robust community discussion on the current challenges and responses for our beloved national park. It’s your chance to come along, be informed, and have a say in the future of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, which is such a cornerstone of living in or visiting the region.”

The sundowner will feature three expert speakers followed by an audience Q&A aimed at giving locals a deeper understanding of the national park, its unique beauty, what’s being done now to manage, and explore future threats as well as opportunities to protect it.

Already confirmed for the night is Karri Karrak Aboriginal Corporation lands manager Ben Tannock, who will discuss indigenous ranger programs and joint national park management. Nature Conservation general manager Drew McKenzie will bring a community perspective on the increasing pressures and issues facing the park.

Local Member for Warren Blackwood Jane Kelsbie will be there representing – and listening to community feedback on behalf of – the State Government. Also attending on the Q&A panel is Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chair Stuart Hicks, who was the architect of a widely endorsed “six-point plan” for the national park. That plan includes joint Aboriginal management of the park in perpetuity; resources to restore and sustain the park; reinstatement of the Nindup Plain; visitor facilities, education and management; future fire management; and assistance for businesses impacted by the 2021 bushfire.

The evening will conclude with drinks and canapes in the foyer, and the chance to connect, catch up and discuss the issues further.

This event is the sixth in Nature Conservation’s series of informal sundowner evenings which kicked off in 2022, bringing expert speakers to our region.

Nature Conservation chair Dr Ann Ward said living in the Margaret River region “comes with a responsibility to be an informed community who can learn together how to best care for where we live and how we can contribute to the wellbeing of the natural world”.

The Environmental Sundowner Series is possible thanks to funding from the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.