Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perth could lose it's own wildlife within weeks

I’ve been very fortunate so far in my life to live and visit many different places around the world. However Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was spot on when she said, “There’s no place like home”. For myself home is Perth, one of the most remote cities in the world and famous for some world class wines and stunning beaches.

I often devote my energy and attention to the plights of animals around the world, the rhinos in Africa, the Orang utans in Borneo and Northern Sumatra, the polar bears in the Arctic Circle. However what about the wildlife back at home? Do you know what’s happening in your home city?

When I left Perth about six years ago, Joondalup was as far as you went north and to get to the quaint town of Mandurah, there wasn’t a train line to get there, just a wearisome drive. In Perth, just a few years later this is no longer the case as the city has witnessed immense urban sprawl. If you aren’t familiar with Perth, the rate at which bushland was cleared for development between 2001 and 2009 was the size of ten cricket ovals a week.

Perth is abundant with beautiful animal and plants, some which are found nowhere else in the world. Astonishingly, there are more plant species in the Greater Perth Floristic District than the entire British Isles, an area over 20 times larger. The Perth and Peel regions and the rest of the Southwest Australia are considered as important to the world’s biodiversity as the Galapagos or the Amazon rainforest.

The now endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (picture above) is endemic to southwest Western Australia. Their population has halved in the last 45 years due to habitat fragmentation and the removal of nest hollows for use as firewood or just to make properties look “tidy”. Much bushland now lacks hollows as it takes over 100 years for seedlings to mature and form hollows suitable for nesting for the Cockatoo. Furthermore, other bird species such as the Galah and the Western Long-billed Corella are extending their range across the wheatbelt and out competing the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. Australia’s love an underdog, so we have to back this poor bird.

Another local is the poor Turtle Frog (pictured below). He’s not really a looker, but he’s a battler. With a tiny head and strong, stumpy limbs but a big round body he reminds me of mini-me version of a few fellas I’ve seen at the pub. Most frogs dig backwards but this species digs forwards, like a turtle. It feeds on termites so the adaptation of the muscular limbs is useful when trying to break into a termite mound. Once again get rid of the bushland and you get rid of the Turtle Frog’s habitat and source of termites.

The Peel-Yalgorup wetland system in Perth's south is the most important area for waterbirds in Southwest Australia. It is also home to a unique community of thrombolites clotted accretionary structures formed in shallow water. They just so happen to be one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

All these are under threat and their future will be determined in very short time. The Federal and WA State Government have announced their intention to conduct a Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel region, to determine where future development can occur and which areas need to be protected.

Join the WWF in ensuring Perth’s unique and exquisite wildlife is protected. Click here to send an email voicing your concern about the rate at which bushland is being cleared and that you support that sufficient space to house Perth’s growing population should be found on already cleared and degraded land. To make your submission even more effective, please consider sending your own comments direct to:

To find out more about exactly what is a Strategic Assessment and what does it mean for threatened species, go to here.

Comments must be received by Friday 7 October 2011, so please - act now!

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