Adjournment Speech

23rd October 2013

HON ROBIN CHAPPLE (Mining and Pastoral) [10.02 pm]: I will be relatively brief. I advise the house that on 4 October I attended the open day at Charles Darwin Nature Reserve, 355 kms northeast of Perth. It is on the northeast border of the wheatbelt on a former pastoral station called Whitewells Station. I previously went out there a few years ago with Chris Darwin, one of the direct descendants of Charles Darwin. It was impressive to see that this station has almost completely regenerated and the people there have done a marvellous job. It has created quite a regional development structure. It is situated on the boundary between the wheatbelt and the arid zone. It has been identified as a climate change observatory because it is one of the few places where we will see potential migration or change in species, both flora and fauna, as climate changes. The climate change observatory is part of a joint initiative between Bush Heritage Australia and the Conservation Council of Western Australia.

It is one of the many projects taking place on the Charles Darwin reserve.

As I said, it will monitor the effect of climate change on animals and plants over the next 30 to 50 years, so will not provide any information in the short term. Currently, less than one per cent of published research on the impacts of climate change on global biodiversity is done in the southern hemisphere, so this project will provide some useful data. The study will be very important in understanding the impacts of climate change on plant and animal survival rates in Western Australia. Bush Heritage Australia, one of the proponents involved in the project, is a not-for-profit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting Australia’s unique animals, plants and habitats, and over a period of time it will buy a number of outstanding areas of conservation value, of which they have eight in Western Australia covering a total 105 700 hectares.

The open day at Charles Darwin Reserve brought to people’s attention the “Gunduwa Regional Conservation Association Business Plan 2014-2020”. Gunduwa is a regional conservation association comprising the shires of Dalwallinu, Mount Marshall, Perenjori and Yalgoo, and it is impressive how those shires have become involved in this proposal. Gunduwa is also working with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Extension Hill Pty Ltd, the Liebe Group, Mount Gibson Mining Limited, the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council, the Northern Central Malleefowl Preservation Group and the Rangelands NRM. The Gunduwa project is more expansive than Whitewells station, and many regional farming and pastoral areas are taking some really good initiatives by looking at what has been done on the old Whitewells station and the Charles Darwin reserve and making their properties compatible with that proposal.

The Gunduwa proposal covers Mullewa, Yalgoo, Muralgarra, Morawa, Perenjori, Mount Gibson, Dalwallinu, Mount Marshall and Paynes Find and is becoming a dynamic area in which all the local authorities and mining industries are getting heavily involved. Members should take the opportunity to go out there to see some of the salt pans and the reintroduction of wildlife, because it is marvellous. The stick rat is also being re-introduced to Western Australia in that location. The stick rat, an interesting beast, has been extinct in Western Australia for a number of years. They make their nests out of sticks by adhering sticks together with their own excreta. They make their nests in caves, which are one of the longest lasting things to be found in caves even though the animal has been extinct for a long time. Those animals are being reintroduced from the eastern states into Western Australia, and we will wait to see how that project goes.

I commend the Gunduwa project, its business plan, the work of the Charles Darwin Reserve and Bush Heritage.


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