Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP has announced two projects in his electorate will share in more than $350,000 in funding under the National Landcare Programme.
Mr Wilson said the Coalition would commit $200,000 for the protection of four species of plants, including the Matchstick Banksia, which is found exclusively in the Wheatbelt.
All four species were identified as priority plants in the Government’s 30 Plants by 2020, part of the national Threatened Species Strategy.
The funding will allow WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife to establish new populations for three of those species: the Matchstick Banksia, the Black Grevillea and the Scaly-Leaved Featherflower*.
Each species will be grown from seeds under strict hygiene conditions before being planted into suitable habitats within historical ranges, irrigated over the critical first summer and fenced for protection from grazing.
Money will also be provided to secure populations of a fourth species – the Glossy-Leaved Hammer-Orchid* – from grazing and illegal access, and to undertake trial hand-pollination to improve seed production.
Additionally, a $165,000 grant has also been allocated to an organisation known as the Numbat Taskforce to protect some of the last remaining wild populations of numbats from feral cats.
The Government’s grant, supported by $140,000 from the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species, will allow the Numbat Taskforce to train two cat detector dogs that will operate in the Dryandra National Park near Narrogin.
Each dog will be controlled by a whistle and patrol the park, sweeping the area in front of its trainer to detect the scent of feral cats.
Once a trail has been identified, the dog will lead its handler to the cat’s location, which will be humanely euthanased.
The program’s main focus is protecting wild numbats but the woylie, western ringtail possum, western quoll and malleefowl are all likely to benefit from a reduction in feral cats.
Mr Wilson said the funding would dramatically improve the long-term viability of some of O’Connor’s threatened flora and fauna.
“O’Connor is an incredible part of the world – we’ve got one of the most diverse collections of wildlife and plant life that you’ll find in Australia,” he said.
“Unfortunately some of those species are under extreme threat, whether it be from introduced species or heavy grazing from wild animals.
“It would be terrible to see some of these lost forever and the goal of our Threatened Species Strategy is to ensure their longevity.
“These projects will help to insure some of these threatened species against extinction and protect the natural beauty that makes this area such a unique place to live.”
Numbat Task Force co-founder Rob McLean thanked the Government and FAME for their support of the project.
“Feral cats are the main predator of numbats in the wild – up to 50 per cent of all numbats predated are by feral cats,” he said.
“We’re hoping that the project is going to be run for two years and if it proves very successful, we may be able to get it to come under the recurrent budget of DPaW.”
More information on the Government’s Threatened Species Strategy can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/strategy-home