CONSERVATION IN WA:
A REGIONAL NRM PERSPECTIVE
This paper describes opportunities to improve the adoption of
innovative and adaptive Natural Resource Management (NRM)
practices in Western Australia which will conserve biodiversity
and enhance the value and resilience of ecosystems, habitats and
landscapes in a changing climate and economic environment.
Western Australia is recognised internationally as having a highly significant and unique
mix of endemic plant and animal species and habitats. Southwest Australia, extending from
Shark Bay in the north to Israelite Bay in the south, is recognised as a global biodiversityhotspot,
one of just 35 in the world. The ‘hotspot’ is home to plants and animals found
nowhere else on earth and under intense threat!
Native vegetation provides important ecological functions such as maintaining
hydrological cycles and nutrient cycling. It provides shelter and habitat for animals, and
acts as a seed bank. Additionally, vegetation provides broader social benefits including
cleaner air, more resilience to heat, and more attractive properties and recreational areas
in urban areas, while also benefiting both biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in
Many fauna species play an important role in maintaining ecosystems’ health. Both
vertebrates and invertebrates maintain soil condition and nutrient cycling through
their digging, nest building, foraging, and seed dispersal. Research has shown
that burrowing animals like woylies and quenda help soil conditioning
through aeration, nutrient distribution and soil moisture penetration.
Fungi also provide key ecological processes through their
mycorrhizal associations which make soil nutrients accessible
The state’s biodiversity values underpin our agriculture, forestry
and tourism sectors and support significant recreation, social,
cultural and economic values.
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Natural landscapes and ecosystems support our health and wellbeing. These
values are provided free of charge and maintaining the condition of those
natural assets is a key factor in sustaining and enabling growth for the longer
term. This requires robust collaborative management in order to design and
implement effective and adaptive programs to address key threats.
Multi-stakeholder engagement – by WA’s seven regional NRM organisations,
all levels of government and their agencies, research institutions, the
private sector, and the community – is critical to the success of biodiversity
conservation in WA, especially given that much of the state’s natural assets are
located on privately-owned or managed land.
The ability of ecosystems in Western Australia to continue to support
biodiversity, and all the benefits we derive from it, are currently threatened by:
Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.
Invasive species (pests and diseases) which modify
habitats,compete with and predate on native species.
Unsustainable use of natural resources.
Changing fire regimes which influence the continuing
evolution of the landscape.
Changes to the aquatic environment caused by human
Changing climatic conditions (the increasing frequency
of extreme events magnifies existing threats, and may
alter the distribution and abundance of both native and
Regional NRM Organisations
The seven regional NRM organisations in Western Australia collaborate under
the collective banner NRM WA – all working with local communities to protect
natural assets and values and manage threats.
The work of these community-based, non-profit organisations is enabled by
federal, state and local government funding, as well as private investment
by landholders, community groups, businesses, research institutions and
universities, and industry.
The regional NRM infrastructure allows investors to capitalise on the
existing capacity, knowledge and community relationships of regional NRM
organisations, underpinned by the strength and value of regional or state scale
With sound and established governance and a commitment to cross-regional
cooperation, Regional NRM organisations are uniquely placed to facilitate
partnerships for biodiversity conservation at a scale that creates lasting
Regional NRM – Conserving
Regional NRM programs align with the national
priorities for action to help stop the decline in
Australia’s biodiversity, as described in Australia’s
Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030.
There are a number of opportunities to improve
natural resource management in Western Australia,
building on the work regional NRM organisations
undertake with local communities, private entities,
local governments, government agencies, industry
Engage landholders (and landcare and
farmer groups) to conserve biodiversity
on private land through sustainable
agriculture management, managing
pests and diseases and importantly
recognising good stewardship through
programs such as Land for Wildlife.
• Develop practical solutions to protect
biodiversity assets, and manage threatening
processes that can be successfully undertaken
within a largely production-based landscape.
• Investigate, promote and enhance the
productive benefits of biodiversity on farms and
assist landholders to better manage pressures.
• Acknowledge private land biodiversity
conservation champions and share their stories.
Engage community members and
local ‘friends of’ and landcare
groups, and maintain capacity of
regional communities to play their
part in biodiversity conservation
– including through managing
pests and threats, monitoring and
• Increase community awareness and
knowledge of threatening processes and
opportunities for successful management.
• Identify opportunities and mechanisms
for governments and industry to
contribute to community Landcare.
• Share and celebrate community success.
• Nurture future leaders.
Engage with Aboriginal people who
are looking after their country (or
seeking to) and preserving cultural
values associated with biodiversity.
• Increase opportunities for Aboriginal
people to look after their country.
• Incorporate traditional ecological
knowledge and intergenerational cultural
• Increase participation and capacity of
Aboriginal people in conservation and
• Incorporate traditional fire management
practices when managing for
Raise awareness of the particular
and shared values and benefits
associated with biodiversity.
• Foster appreciation of biodiversity and
promote informed access of the natural
• Regional-scale ecological linkages and
refugia are identified, mapped and
recognised by major stakeholders,
including government, industry, and
Guide investment in
management planning, and
strategic project delivery
across the whole of Western
• Strengthen alliances with
industry, government agencies,
local governments, universities,
and community groups.
• Map biodiversity assets, values,
• Access, aggregate, and interpret
existing data held by NRM and
community groups, government,
local government, research
organisations, and industry.
• Access experts, latest
technologies and systems.
• Use models of threatening
processes and values to
prioritise action and guide
• Look for opportunities for
synergy and avoid perverse
outcomes with land use planning
and development legislation and
Contribute to coordination
and management of postborder
biosecurity – with a
particular emphasis on pests
and diseases that threaten
• Reduce the impact on
biodiversity of invasive weeds
and feral pests.
• Map and report on status of
• Encourage vigilance in
community and landholder
surveillance for pests and
Attract investment and
continue to innovate in
programs, techniques, and
management across Western
• Seek funding from outside
the usual government and
philanthropic circles to augment
• Continue to explore efficiency
and effectiveness of programs
and use this knowledge to
• Seek innovation and
improvement in governance,
delivery, and reporting.
Monitor, evaluate, review
and improve management in
an ongoing way, identifying
new learning about how to
conserve biodiversity more
effectively and optimise the
• Build a stronger body of
knowledge and improve our
understanding of the natural and
NRM values and assets, and the
effectiveness of management.
• Seek to increasingly
integrate considerations into
conservation projects such as
fire management, recreational
usage, and feral animal and
• Share knowledge and learnings
• Never stop learning.
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