The forest zone is broadly defined by the 750mm rainfall isohyet and includes the tall karri, tingle, jarrah and marri forests.
In the high rainfall forest zone the focus is on achieving cross-tenure conservation management that protects species, ecosystems and landscapes in the long term. Work to achieve this also strengthens the capacity of local groups and improves the institutional arrangements which determine management of the forest ecosystem.
The forest zone includes the Warren IBRA region and the Southern Jarrah Forest IBRA subregion and many iconic forest conservation areas, such as the Walpole Wilderness Area and Shannon-D’Entrecasteaux National Park. The zone features WA’s tallest forests as well as more cryptic wonders such as the endemic white-bellied and sunset frogs.
Much of this zone is within public land. Some areas are still being logged, as well as areas of improved pasture grazing and some plantation forests.
Horticultural use is increasing, a trend likely to continue. Urban and small holder expansion, although limited by the State Forests and reserved areas, is exerting pressure particularly around Margaret River and the southern coastal areas and is also expected to continue to increase as the Perth area becomes hotter, drier and less liveable in future.
The threats to the forest ecosystems of the south-western Australia include:
- Climate change and decreasing winter rainfall;
- Phytophthora dieback;
- Fire and new strategies which are leading to excessive prescribed burning;
- Recreation pressure from the population growth centres of Peth and Bunbury;
- Feral animals, pigs, foxes and cats pushing populations of endemic fauna to the brink; and
- Logging which has severe impacts on fauna, including on the known habitat of very rare species.
The Story so Far
The Gondwana Link organisation has been too overstretched, to date, to give much focus on the forest areas. However, there are some very impressive local groups who, for many years, have done excellent work not only protecting the forest but projecting a more ecologically sustainable future for the area. These include Nature Conservation Margaret River, Warren Catchments Council and the WA Forest Alliance. We are currently working with the WA Forest Alliance to further develop and implement their ‘Forests for Life’ program, which aims to achieve some 40,000 ha of agroforestry – stabilising farmland and lessening sawlog pressure on native forests.
The forest estate stretches from north of Denmark almost to the west coast. It has taken decades of work by many dedicated conservation organisations and individuals and a series of wise decisions by government to achieve this. That is the foundation we are looking to build on.
We need to shift the focus of forest management from sustainable timber production to ecological needs.