Fauna at risk

Fauna at risk

While still exisitng in other parts of WA, the Bilby: a charasmatic marsupial distinguished by its “bunny-like ears”, has sadly been lost from the SWCC Region forever and more threatened species are at risk of being lost.

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Threatened Aquatic Species

Threatened Aquatic Species

Between 2001 and 2017, the number of aquatic species (including wetland dependent birds) in the South West NRM region, which have been adequately searched for and are deemed to be, in the wild, either rare, at risk of extinction, or otherwise in need of special protection, and have been gazetted as such, have increased from 5 being listed to 23. Thus, there has been a 360% increase in aquatic species listed as threatened between 2001-2017.

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Smooth Marron Populations

Smooth Marron Populations

While past translocations of Smooth Marron (Cherax cainii) have resulted in an expansion of its distribution northward and eastward, there has also been a decline in its inland range and local abundances due to water quality decline and loss of habitat.  The populations have deteriorated over the past 40 years.  Monitoring of the recreational Smooth Marron fishery since the mid-1970s has shown both a reduction in total catches and a reduction in catch rates. There is some recent evidence of stabilisation.

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Coastal erosion risks

Coastal erosion risks

The Peron Naturaliste region (the area from the Shire Rockingham to City of Busselton) has been identified as vulnerable to the impacts of coastal climate change. From now to 2100, approximately 200 metres wide strip is at risk from erosion along the whole extent of the coastline.

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Aquatic invertebrates in forests

Aquatic invertebrates in forests

69% of 29 stream studied within conservation reserves or state forest across the SWCC NRM region received an average AusRivAS rating indicating they were in good condition.

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Water availability

Water availability

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation licences the taking of water from about 250 groundwater and surface water resources in the South West region that are proclaimed under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914. The total volume of water available under allocation limits for these water resources is about 685 gigalitres per year, 60% of which is surface water and 40% groundwater. A high proportion of resources are fully allocated particularly in areas with the biggest population growth and economic development pressures.

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Seagrass meadows

Seagrass meadows

Geographe Bay supports the most extensive seagrass meadows in temperate Western Australia and around 9,500 hectares in waters < 10 m are in good condition. The most common species is Posidonia sinuosa which is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN redlist. In Geographe Bay the P. sinuosa meadows are healthy with reasonably consistent density over the last seven years, and a higher density than found in other places in WA.

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Population growth

Population growth

Between 2001 to 2016, SWCC regional population has grown by 36.7%, from 138,049 to 188,754. and total population projected to growth 223,480 by 2026 (i.e. 61.9% growth from 2001 to 2026). Rapid urbanisation has occurred in coastal LGAs such as Busselton, Augusta-Margaret River, Harvey, Dardanup, Donnybrook-Balingup and Dardanup.

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Projected rise in temperature

Projected rise in temperature

The projected changes in temperature for the South West are severe enough to result in large parts of the current ranges of many species becoming unsuitable for those species.

Changes in average annual and seasonal temperatures can result in conditions that make a specific location unsuitable for that plant to grow or animal to thrive, i.e. the new temperature range is outside of that species’ optimal temperature range.

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Projected decline in rainfall

Projected decline in rainfall

Changes in average annual and seasonal rainfall can result in conditions that make a specific location unsuitable for that plant to grow or animal to thrive, i.e. the new rainfall range is outside of that species’ optimal range. The projected changes in rainfall for the South West are severe enough to result in large parts of the current ranges of many species becoming unsuitable for those species.

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Salinity and agriculture

Salinity and agriculture

This is a key issue affecting agriculture in Western Australia, particularly in the eastern parts of the region. The implications of dryland salinity to the agricultural industry are widespread and include reduced crop yield, area of arable land, land capability and should also include the growing need to meet community and market demands for environmentally responsible agriculture.

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Loss of native vegetation

Loss of native vegetation

Clearing of native vegetation (historical, present and future) remains one of the major threats to terrestrial biodiversity in the south west. It contributes to the the physical loss of flora, fauna and their habitat; and reduces the resilience of the remaining vegetation and biodiversity to pressures such as weed invasion, vegetation fragmentation, fire, feral animals and climate change.

While just over half (53%) the vegetation has been cleared across the whole SWCC region, some areas have been cleared more extensively. Most notably, on the Swan Coastal Plain (80% lost), Avon Wheatbelt and Mallee IBRA regions (84.7% and 89.4% lost respectively).

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