The Healthy Environments program incorporates the Biodiversity and Coastal and Marine themes of Southern Prospects.
Biodiversity is the abundance and variety of life – it includes ecosystems, the species and populations they support, and the genetic material they contain. The South Coast NRM region has a rich and significant biodiversity, including the internationally recognised UNESCO Biodiversity Hotspot covering most of the Fitzgerald National Park. Scientists have identified 35 ‘biodiversity hotspots’ around the world – areas considered to be of international significance, which support a combination of high levels of endemic species and biodiversity.
A healthy biodiverse environment is valuable for health and wellbeing and also contributes to tourism and the beauty of the region. It also contributes to the economic health of the agricultural sector through the provision of ecosystem services, such as supporting crop pollination and maintaining water quality. Native vegetation is essential for maintaining ecological functions including hydrological processes and nutrient cycling and it provides shelter and habitat for flora and fauna. Approximately 60% of the South Coast region includes remnant native vegetation, but only 21% is within protected estates.
South Coast NRM is addressing threats to the region’s biodiversity from Phytophthora Dieback disease, inappropriate fire regimes and wildfire, unsustainable land use practices, introduced animals and environmental weeds.
A Threatened Ecological Community is a natural environment which supports a community of native plants, animals and other organisms that are recognised for their unique biodiversity, landscapes and habitat values and the ecosystem services that these provide. They are under threat from human activity such as land clearing, inappropriate water or fire management, pollution, development and climate change.
South Coast NRM is undertaking a comprehensive and long term range of conservation measures to protect these TECs through monitoring, measuring, restoration and other on-ground works.
Threatened and endangered species found in our region include Gilbert’s Potoroo, Western Ringtail Possum, Western Ground Parrot, Noisy Scrub Bird, and the Carnaby’s and Baudin’s cockatoos.
COASTAL AND MARINE
The coastline of the South Coast region is spectacular, extending for approximately 1,000 kilometres and encompassing a great diversity of landforms and marine environments.
Offshore islands provide critical habitat, breeding and resting sites for many species of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, penguins and the endangered Cape Barren goose, as well as the Australian sea lion and New Zealand fur seal.
The coastal environments of the South Coast region include a high proportion of native vegetation which form a priority east-west corridor linking areas of high conservation value. The coastal reserves represent very significant habitat refuges and Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, Cape Arid and Fitzgerald National Parks are important for unique and threatened species and communities, including Gilbert’s Potoroo, Dibbler and the Western Ground Parrot.
The coastal corridor includes threatened flora including the nationally protected Threatened Ecological Communities, known as the Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarshand Proteaceae Dominated Kwongkan Shrubland, of the southeast coastal floristic province of Western Australia. At least 7 of the 10 priority ecological communities occurring in the South Coast coastal corridor are in decline and in need of ongoing protection.
All coastal environments are part of a fragile but dynamic ecosystem, they are threatened by Phytophthora Dieback, aerial canker, the impacts from recreational use, grazing, inappropriate fire regimes, changes to hydrology and the introduction of pest plant and animal species.
South Coast NRM is committed to protecting and restoring our coastal and marine environments which are threatened from predicted sea level and temperature rises and increases in ocean acidification. We are working closely with the South Coast Management Group which promotes best practice coastal management along approximately 1000 km of the coastline and marine environments out to 3 nautical miles from the low tide mark. The South Coast Management Group work together with WA State Government Departments and local organisations.