Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP says UNESCO’s decision to reintroduce to Fitzgerald Biosphere to its global network is fantastic news and promises to boost tourism and scientific research in the South Coast region.
Earlier this month, UNESCO accepted the Government’s request to reinstate an expanded area in the World Biosphere Network, a group of internationally recognised areas that balance the goals of conserving biological diversity, promoting economic development, and maintaining associated cultural values.
The Fitzgerald Biosphere Reserve includes over 40 species or communities recognised in WA as threatened. More than 30 of these are also listed by the Commonwealth.
A 330,000ha chunk of the Fitzgerald River region had previously been recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere in 1968, but was subsequently removed after failing to meet zoning requirements outlined in 1996.
The revised area approved earlier this month covers 1,530,000 hectares and ensures the reserve meets the requirements of the Man and the Biosphere program.
Mr Wilson said the decision was the culmination of years of hard work, from a grassroots community level right through to the Federal Government.
“It’s a fantastic result to see the Fitzgerald Biosphere expanded and reinstated in UNESCO’s World Network of Biospheres,” he said.
“The community has worked hard for this result – Nathan McQuoid first asked for my support in 2015, but the process had been ongoing for years before that.
“In many ways the process was a race against time – we had to pressure the then-State Government to get the nomination in front of the Federal Minister at the time, Greg Hunt, who literally received the proposal the day it was due to be submitted.
“Obviously this is a great announcement for the region, the community support has been overwhelming right throughout this whole process.
“This inclusion puts the Fitzgerald River National Park on the world stage – it’s going to boost tourism and attract a high standard of scientific research to the region.
“It also ensures the development on the outer regions of the biosphere will be managed in a sustainable fashion in consultation with the community.”
Biospheres encourage the community to develop better ways to meet social and economic needs, while conserving natural processes and biodiversity. They support this through research, monitoring, education and information exchange.
For management purposes, they are structured into three zones:
Core – conservation areas that are legally protected (e.g. National Parks).
Buffer – areas surrounding the core, where activities compatible with conservation occur.
Transition – other areas, e.g. private land, farms, industrial and urban areas, where sustainable practices are developed and promoted by the community.