Pilot project to protect rare Pilbara vegetation

Rare and unique sand dune habitats are receiving a lifeline through a pilot project managed by Greening Australia for the WA Government’s Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund.

The Priority Ecological Community fencing project will aim to protect natural dune vegetation on BHP’s Marillana Station, in the Fortescue River Valley. The project will cover up to 3,500 hectares and involve, among other activities, installing a whopping 50 kilometres of fencing.

The project will be managed by Greening Australia, in partnership with the Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation, BHP and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. Funding for the project is from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said:

“This pilot project as part of the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund is an important step towards strategic protection and recovery of the region’s incredible biodiversity on a scale that was not possible under the previous offsets system.

“The Pilbara region will continue to play a vital role for Western Australia’s economy, and this fund will take a more strategic approach to balance responsible development with protecting environmental values.”

Greening Australia Science and Planning Manager, Blair Parsons, said:

“This project represents the first on-ground example of the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund in action. Through this project, Greening Australia and its partners will demonstrate a new and collaborative model of offset delivery for environmental gain in the Pilbara.”

“The Sand Dune Priority Ecological Community was previously recognised as a unique and important natural asset through Greening Australia’s conservation action planning process for the Pilbara. It is fantastic to now work with the Nyiyaparli people, BHP and the State Government for its protection over the long term.”

Project activities

The project will focus on two areas of Marillana Station containing regionally rare, unique and fragile ecological communities within the region’s dune systems.

Stage one of the project is underway with more than $70,000 of funding being used for a vegetation survey, land access agreements and planning.

Once the scope of the project is confirmed and land access granted, the project will receive further funding for fence manufacturing and installation, and capacity building with Nyiyaparli people.

“An important focus for the fund is ensuring Traditional Owners play a meaningful role. This pilot project will ensure the knowledge of Traditional Owners is harnessed and that Nyiyaparli people have an ongoing role in protecting unique vegetation on country,” said Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

It is hoped this pilot project will lead the way for other regionally significant conservation projects in the Pilbara.

The Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund is created through environmental offset payments required by the mining and construction industry and is managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) to support environmental conservation in the Pilbara. Read the ministerial release.

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