The significance of this area
The Manypeaks landscape straddles the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve/Mount Manypeaks Nature Reserve/Waychinicup National Park, the Stirling Range National Park and the Porongurup National Parks. It is a very important landscape in the Gondwana Link pathway.
The traditional custodians of the area are the Mineng and Goreng groups of the South West’s Noongar Aboriginal people, who have recently rekindled some of their ties to important cultural sites with which they have had an ongoing connection with for at least 12,000 years, and almost certainly much longer.
The coastal reserves and national parks of the Manypeaks landscape protect mature coastal vegetation, the type of habitat required by a range of fauna including the noisy scrub bird, western bristlebird, Australasian bittern, western ringtail possum, quokka and Gilbert’s potoroo, all of which are threatened species but which used to occur across the broader Manypeaks landscape prior to European settlement. A number of wetlands and their associated fauna and flora are found along the coast and inland of the large coastal bushland reserves and national parks, and together with remnant vegetation provide potential connective linkages through land that is now largely cleared for agriculture to the important inland national parks of the Stirling Range and Porongurup.
The Stirling Range National Park contains more than 1,500 plant species (more than the British Isles), including 87 found nowhere else, and at least 138 orchid species or 38% of Western Australia’s total. The nearby Porongurup National Park, although much smaller in extent is also ecologically very valuable. It is the largest inland remnant of native vegetation between the Stirling Range and the coast and contains an isolated patch of the karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forest community – considered a relic of several thousand years ago when karri covered a larger area of the south west of Australia. The combination of raised hills and granite soils of the Porongurup National Park supports a range of plant communities and associated fauna, from tall open karri forest to low herblands. Over 700 native species of vascular plants have been recorded in the Porongurup National Park to date (one of the richest concentrations of plant species in Australia) and the area has been recognised as a separate vegetation system in its own right. A few small outliers of Karri, the eastern most extent of this forest type occur near the coast to the south of the Manypeaks landscape.
The coastal reserve of Two Peoples Bay and the Bald Island contains the only wild populations of Gilberts Potoroo, Australia’s rarest mammal.
The significance of the area
The Manypeaks landscape has high conservation values for a number of reasons including:
- the meeting place of a number of eco-zones, which have been characterised primarily by physical (mainly soils) and floristic criteria (McQuoid, 2009);
- a high plant species richness and a high level of narrow -range endemism resulting from a history of isolated evolution in ancient but diverse landscapes and nutrient-deficient soils (Hopper & Gioia, 2004);
- the highest concentrations of threatened fauna in the South Coast Region of Western Australia (Gilfillan et. al, 2009),
a number of regionally, nationally and internationally significant wetlands (Hopkinson, 2005);
- internationally-recognised important bird areas, i.e. Oyster Harbour for shorebird conservation (Taylor, 2012) and Two Peoples Bay& Mount Manypeaks (Birdlife International, 2012); and
- the last stronghold for a range of species and with very high conservation potential for corridor linkages (Wilkins et. al. 2006).
Stresses and opportunities
The Manypeaks landscape has both stresses that are degrading natural values in a fragmented landscape and opportunities for reducing stresses and improving functional ecological connectivity). Apart from the connection and opportunities that the rivers, in particular the Kalgan River provide, important linkage areas that could function as “macro-corridors” along north-south and east-west axes have been identified by the Department of Conservation and South Coast Natural Resource Management.
The area shown in the map covers approximately 200,000 hectares in size and is the focus of this plan. There is approximately 35% habitat left in this landscape, which is primarily concentrated in large areas at the coast and managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management. The area lies within the local government jurisdiction of the City of Albany, and falls largely within the Oyster Harbour Catchment which includes parts of the catchment of the Kalgan and King Rivers. To the east the Manypeaks landscape forms part of a shallow, internally-draining coastal system, and to the south there are a number of important river catchments including the Moats/Goodga/Angove system, the King Creek and the Norman and Waychinicup Rivers. The Manypeaks landscape has wide rainfall gradient ranging from 950 mm on the coast to 450 mm just south of the Stirling Ranges. Soil systems are extremely varied with areas of heavily dissected landscapes incorporating soils derived from granitic material in the south with large areas of tertiary sediments overlaying granitic bedrock to the north. These areas are often low lying stagnant flats and gently undulating slopes and are most at risk of secondary salinity and waterlogging.
Farming in the northern part of the Manypeaks landscape is mixed cropping (mainly canola, wheat and barley) and sheep production with a change to cattle farming the higher rainfall areas to the south, where extensive areas of blue gum plantations have been established and there are small pockets of intensive horticulture.
Threats that affect the biodiversity of the Manypeaks landscape are many and include altered hydrology, various dieback diseases, introduced predators, inappropriate fire regimes, human recreation, historical and current clearing causing habitat fragmentation, weeds and grazing.
In 2012-13 the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group, Department of Plants and Wildlife, City of Albany and plantation companies in the area have worked with a range of stakeholders to develop a conservation action plan for the Manypeaks area. This plan clearly articulates the goal, the priority actions and how to measure if these actions are successful in achieving their aim. Barry Heydenrych, while seconded from Greening Australia to Gondwana Link, assisted the group with developing their plan.
However, since then the available funding has not been sufficient for implementation of the Plan.