The people of the South West are one of its most important assets.
Our communities are resilient, evolving and diverse, whether they are rural, peri-urban or urban coastal. SWCC recognises the value of these communities to environmental protection and management.
We also recognise the value of the diversity of cultural backgrounds within our South West communities, in particular Aboriginal culture. We look to the Noongar connection to Country to improve our approach to valuing, managing and protecting our natural environment.
In saying all of this, the South West natural environment is coming under increasing pressure from local community way of life and visitors alike. Population increase, increasing tourism and climate change are projected to test our environmental capital.
The fundamental principle underpinning this Environmental Snapshot is that the management of the Region’s natural resources will only be achieved at a broadscale if the capacity of the community and landholders to undertake landcare is fully supported, with locally delivered engagement and extension activities, community landcare support professionals and adequate financial resources to ensure the inclusion of wider community and Aboriginal cultural values into the management of private and public natural assets.
An improvement in the condition of these natural assets will require a substantial shift in; the behaviour and attitudes of individuals within our communities; government engagement and interaction with these communities; tourist and visitor education and landholder support to tackle the diversity of issues facing the Region.
Services and values
While European settlement and subsequent regional development trends in the South West over the past 200 years have undoubtedly created most of the issues and pressures confronting our natural assets, it is the regional community that holds the key to improved resource management.
The region’s rural, urban, Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, professional and lay, research, business and academic communities provide the following values to natural resource management:
- land management knowledge
- traditional ecological knowledge
- a stewardship ethic
- eyes ‘on the ground’
- a diversity of views
- community networks
- new ways of communicating environmental messages
- local interest, connection and enthusiasm
Current condition, threats and trends
One of the biggest threats to the South West environment, our ‘sense of place’ and ‘way of life’ is population increase, urban development and associated land use conflict. The South West’s [Development Commission Region] population is expected to grow significantly by 2026, to the tune of almost 210,0001.
In conjunction, ongoing land degradation, including the projected continued spread of salinity, ongoing vegetation clearing on roadsides and private property, and loss of arable soils, are projected to compound these issues and place additional pressure on agricultural land productivity, fresh water resources, tourism attractions and wildlife habitat.
Temperature increase and rainfall decrease projected for the South West as part of climate change modelling will compound these issues.