Forest to the Stirlings
From the forests of the Walpole Wilderness Area to the Stirling Range is a distance of about 70 km. Across this distance there is a steep rainfall gradient, from about 750mm to only 450mm. As you would expect, this climate range supports a number of vegetation types from forest and woodlands of jarrah, marri in the west, through wandoo woodlands and to mallee-heath and proteaceous shrublands in the east and on laterite hills northwest of the Stirling Range. Yate dominates the swamp vegetation complexes around the wetlands and in parts of the river valleys. With such a range of vegetation types and such a complex mosaic of land systems, it is not surprising that it has high plant species richness, and mapping of species richness in fact show that it overlies one of the species-rich hotspots of the southwest and includes many species endemic to this area. Adding to its ecological complexity are the many wetlands, some of which are nationally important, and the four major catchment systems that the area straddles.
Species richness and endemism are not confined to the plants of this area: some surveys show that the invertebrate communities of the wetlands also have high diversity with many species only occurring in this part of the southwest.
Other fauna, including Red tailed Phascogale and Southern Brown Bandicoot, occur here but in diminishing numbers as their habitats contract and predators like cats and foxes become more widespread. As in the Stirling to Fitzgerald area, the Black-gloved Wallaby was once far more abundant than it currently is, and restoring and maintaining its numbers is a conservation priority. Like the mammals, many of the birds that are of conservation concern are dependent at least for part of their lives on the woodlands, but for species like Carnaby’s Cockatoo, it is nesting hollows in woodland trees in close proximity (less than 12km) from proteaceous shrubs that provide food that is critically important.
The Balicup Lake System is one of wetlands systems that is listed under the National Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia and consists of several wetlands, such as Lakes Balicup, Camel, and Jebarjup, that occur in small nature reserves or on private land. They are important partly because of the numbers and range of species of waterbirds that they support, including some like the Banded Stilt that are protected under international treaties. Similarly, there are important wetlands in the Upper Kent catchment, such as Lake Kwornicup, that also support large numbers of waterbirds Banded Stilt and other protected waterbirds. Wetlands like Lake Nunijup are also important for recreation for local people.
The Story So Far
- Building a network of groups and community members that work together on Gondwana Link planning and activities.
- Compilation of a Conservation Action Plan for the Forest to Stirling area which outlines the conservation priorities for the area and strategies for addressing them. A booklet on the Conservation Action Plan can be downloaded here (1.4 Mb). Additional details on the plan can be found on the The Nature Conservancy's Conpro website.
- A number of reports that compile knowledge to support the work. Many of these reports are available on the publications page on the Green Skill's website - scroll down the page to Gondwana Link.
- Public workshops to build awareness of and engagement in Gondwana Link work.
- Field days to view on-ground achievements.