River strat­egy re­leased

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

A promised pro­tec­tion strat­egy for the Mar­garet River was re­leased for pub­lic com­ment this week.

Un­der­taken by Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Mar­garet River on be­half of the Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River, the strat­egy looks at bio­di­ver­sity risks as well as wear and tear on the river ecosys­tem from hu­man in­ter­ac­tion.

The re­port noted the Mar­garet River was one of the few wa­ter­ways not af­fected by salin­ity but re­search re­in­forced ex­ist­ing con­cerns about water flows and the con­se­quences for na­tive flora and fauna.

NCMR has re­cently won State fund­ing for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the strat­egy dur­ing the next 18 months, with Shire coun­cil­lors pre­vi­ously flag­ging a need for more fund­ing at a lo­cal level to sup­port con­ser­va­tion ef­forts.

Some ar­eas of fore­shore veg­e­ta­tion were in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, while oth­ers had been harmed by hu­man ac­tiv­ity.

“The veg­e­tated creek lines and as­so­ci­ated seeps within Wood­itjup Na­tional Park have been iden­ti­fied as con­tain­ing a va­ri­ety of ge­o­graph­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant flora pop­u­la­tions, and as pro­vid­ing im­por­tant habi­tat for na­tive fauna species in­clud­ing some threat­ened and con­ser­va­tion-de­pen­dent criti- cal weight-range mam­mals that have pop­u­la­tions in de­cline such as western ring­tail pos­sum and brush-tailed phasco­gale,” the re­port said. NCMR also found de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tions of western mud min­now, lam­prey, Bal­ston’s pygmy perch, and gil­gies, linked to changes in hy­drol­ogy, stream­flow, and the in­tro­duced eastern gam­bu­sia “mos­quito fish”.

“There is much we don’t know about the river and this lack of knowl­edge im­pedes bet­ter man­age­ment,” the re­port said .

A de­crease in stream­flows as well as agri­cul­tural run-off, nonor­ganic pol­lu­tants, graz­ing an­i­mals, and water drawn from the river were iden­ti­fied as fur­ther threats. “Ur­ban and ru­ral-res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sion and de­vel­op­ment in the Mar­garet River catch­ment is plac­ing ad­di­tional pres­sure on the water qual­ity of the river,” the re­port said. NCMR project of­fi­cer Genevieve Han­ran-Smith said Abo­rig­i­nal cus­to­di­ans and gov­ern­ment agen­cies were in­volved in the strat­egy, sup­ported by the re­cently formed Mar­garet River Col­lab­o­ra­tive Man­age­ment Group. “Once the draft strat­egy has the sup­port of the com­mu­nity, the Col­lab­o­ra­tive Man­age­ment Group will work to­wards pri­ori­tis­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the many ac­tions rec­om­mended in the re­port,” she said.

“We be­lieve it will give the river its best chance of stay­ing healthy and re­silient.”

Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Ever­shed said it was the first time “all the play­ers have been around the ta­ble and work­ing to­gether for the fu­ture of the river”.

To view the strat­egy, visit na­ture con­ser­va­ or the Shire’s Your Say site at amr­shire.wa.­cil/have-your-say by Oc­to­ber 12.

Pic­ture: War­ren Hately

Gary Ever­shed and Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Mar­garet River co-or­di­na­tor Caro­line Hughes.

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