River strategy released
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 conservation.org.au or the Shire’s Your Say site at amrshire.wa. gov.au/council/have-your-say by October 12.
Gary Evershed and Nature Conservation Margaret River co-ordinator Caroline Hughes.