PERTH FACES AN URGENT TIPPING POINT
Our city is one at home in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, hitting its ecological limits.
The Swan Coastal Plain on which Perth is nestled was originally covered by chains of wetlands, Banksia woodlands and coastal heath. The south west corner of Western Australia and the Perth region specifically, is recognised as an international biodiversity hotspot. Within the hotspot area, Perth has a particularly high level of endemic species that are not found outside of the metropolitan area or indeed anywhere else in the world. It is essential to our sense of place – our sense of Perth.
Yet more than 75% of this original bushland is now lost. Approximately 80% of our original wetlands have now been drained and filled and many of those that remain in the northern part of the city are in crisis and all are in decline.
The precious remaining natural areas in the city are home to many of Western Australia’s iconic species, such as the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and the Quenda (or southern brown bandicoot). These are two of the 601 species in WA now listed as threatened with extinction, and according to the 2009 WA Auditor General’s report Rich and Rare: Conservation of Threatened Species one of the biggest threats is land clearing.
Successive governments have failed to protect urban bushland and to improve biodiversity in our urban areas. Even worse, this government is one of the worst offenders when it comes to inappropriate developments that will destroy sites that are already supposed to be protected.
The four most significant threats to our remaining natural estate and hurdles to overcome to introduce a Greenways network are:
• Accelerated and uncontrolled clearing of native vegetation and urban sprawl
• An out dated metropolitan planning scheme that locks in unsustainable loss of bushland and car dependency
• Lack of legal protection of biodiversity in WA State legislation; and
• Lack of funding and adequate management of existing reserves.
Our plan shows how we can fix this, and that we must, urgently.
People who live in Perth are justifiably proud of the early conservation efforts that led to the reservation and conservation of Kings Park. Very few cities in the world have such a large area of natural bushland so close to the heart of the city and so accessible to the public. To the east of the city, Whiteman Park is another conservation success story, with a very different type of ecological community. Bold Park to the west is another example of a well-loved natural reserve.
All three parks are characterised by their walking and cycling trails and high public usage. People love the opportunity to access nature. It is good for our physical, mental and social health. This was recognised in the original plans for Bush Forever, which contained the explicit goal to have every person in Perth near a Kings Park of their own.
The Greens believe there is a great potential for a linked series of parks through our entire metropolitan area. This initiative draws strongly on the work of the Perth Biodiversity Project and its comprehensive mapping of Perth’s remaining natural habitats and conceptual plan for a series of Greenways connecting them, or Regional Ecological Linkages.
The opportunity to preserve Perth’s bushland corridors is dwindling as our urban bushland continues to be cleared for further housing, industrial and major but increasingly redundant road developments.
The Perth Greenways Initiative draws on world’s best practice to introduce green corridors that will improve the quality of life in our cities and urban areas, and ensure that our precious urban wildlife is preserved for future generations.
Authorised by Chris Dickinson & Adam Duncan, the Greens (WA), Ground Floor 445 Hay St Perth