Environmental Sustainability 2017
Congratulations to the State Winner: Environmental Sustainability -
State Finalists for the 2017 Environmental Sustainability Award:
Transition Margaret River
The Shire of Augusta Margaret River's action on water recycling and energy savings are making inroads on the sustainability of their community. The Shire's draft Environmental Sustainability Strategy has been developed with community engagement. A group the Shire works closely with is Transition Margaret River (TMR) which has grown from a few committed members to a respected community group that partners across the whole of the community and is increasing local involvement in sustainability issues.
TMR is creating a more sustainable community by raising awareness of issues, partnering with academic groups and with the shire, in putting on local development plans, such as the Shire's Economic Development Strategy and representation on the Community Reference Group for Vision 2036.
The group runs workshops, seminars, and events such as "Love where you live', Open Edible Gardens and Sustainable House Day. The Shire and TMR worked closely on the 'Just Eat It, A Food Waste Story', a 100 percent waste free event.
Bringing Oyster Reefs Back to Oyster Harbour
The Nature Conservancy, Recfishwest, South Coast Natural Resource Management and the University of Western Australia collaborated on a unique project which will impact the sustainability of Albany’s Oyster Harbour by reintroducing native oyster reefs. This project, the first of its kind in Western Australia is part of the Great Southern Seascapes program with $150,000 funding.
Due to historical over dredging, parts of the ocean floor had been destroyed and left void of most life forms. Native Angasi flat oysters, once abundant in the harbour, were extremely rare.
Oysters were spawned and larvae then grown into juvenile oysters on sterilized oyster shells at hatcheries. Commercial empty mussel shells were laid in up to 400m2 reef areas and the seeded shells with juvenile oysters were released to grow on the reefs. Introduced reefs have already seen an increase in the number of fish in the area and the oysters appear to be flourishing.
Shier Rise Reserve – removal of mass weeds, replanting
River Valley Primary School, the Shire of Dardanup and the Shier Rise Resilience Committee joined forces with the aim to preserve and improve the biodiversity of the Shier Rise Reserve.
Funding from the South West Catchment Council was used to purchase weed matting, plants and materials for native animal nest boxes for the Carnaby cockatoo, bats and possums.
Thirty residents volunteered their time to lay the weed matting and plant native plants and school students assisted with planting. Students also got involved by building bat boxes. These boxes, along with a cockatoo tube and possum boxes were then installed around the reserve.
The severe weed problem of invasive bulrushes (Typha Orientalis) has been replaced with native plants and the biodiversity of the area has improved and the threat to Marri trees has been addressed. In addition, the students of River Valley Primary School and local residents have been educated in the importance of protecting native species.
Schwenke’s Dam – Priority Bittern and Waterbird Biodiversity
The four-year Priority Bittern and Waterbird Biodiversity Project at Schwenke’s Dam drew to a close this year. This outstanding project, which has rehabilitated a former mining void is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when environmental groups, community groups and local businesses come together to improve the environmental conditions of their natural environment.
Work included the establishment of mature baumea plants around the perimeter of the waterway which provides habitat and shelter for wading birds and the construction of a new boardwalk to provide passive recreation and bird watching.
Ongoing work at the site includes the cataloguing of aquatic macro-invertebrate, tree planting, cockatoo monitoring and community workshops.
While the main work of the project has come to a close, the Blackwood Basin Group will continue to maintain the area and use the site as an area for environmental studies. The Environmental group is already looking to the future for alternative sites that can also be rehabilitated.
Cliff Head Revegetation
The Cliff Head Revegetation Project, which began in July 2016, is a major project working towards the rehabilitation of the Irwin River. With funding from the Northern Agricultural Catchments Committee (NACC), volunteers from the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Committee and Shire officers removed extensive areas of riverbank weeds, including African boxthorn, to the North and South of Cliff Head.
Volunteers, who also continue to rehabilitate other areas along the Irwin River, have now replanted much of the Cliff Head location with thousands of more appropriate species, propagated at Drylands Permaculture Nursery (Geraldton) from local seeds collected by experienced volunteers. Volunteers who helped with weeding, collecting and planting, were recognised with certificates of appreciation.
Williamstown Cactus Eradication Project
Williamstown, the remains of East Kalgoorlie, which now consists mostly of 'The Super Pit' open cut mine, was severely affected by invasive species of cacti.
A cactus forum, coordinated by Kalgoorlie Boulder Urban Landcare utilised the unique resources and skill sets from different agencies, and successfully mobilised and delegated the involvement of the community, the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder and the then Department of Parks & Wildlife. Through a combined effort between these agencies and the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), the Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association, Boulder Contracting and Maintenance, a staggering 765 tonnes of declared high-priority invasive cacti species were mechanically removed.
The project attracted support from residents and the chair of the Williamstown community committee formally thanked the agencies responsible at the completion of the project. Ongoing monitoring is taking place. This group effort has been acknowledged as a best practice role model solution for similar future situations by DAFWA and the Governor of Western Australia.