Black-winged Stilts
Peel-Harvey Estuary Black-winged Stilts © David Rennie

Newsroom

Bringing nature’s power to the Peel-Harvey Estuary, WA

Three rivers, three projects and one mighty contribution from Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation has announced funding of more than $2 million for three environmental projects across the Peel-Harvey Catchment, south-west of Perth, Western Australia.  The partnerships with Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Greening Australia and The Nature Conservancy will help deliver on-ground and in-water environmental actions in consultation with the community, to improve the health of the Peel-Harvey Catchment over three years.

The projects, which commence in 2017, will contribute directly to the on-going health and management of the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar System. The 26,500 hectare wetland system, including the Peel-Harvey Estuary, is recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention (Ramsar Site 482).

There are a number of threats impacting on the rivers and wetlands of the Peel-Harvey including land clearing and agricultural land use, urban development, recreational land use and climate change.

The three separate but complementary projects will enhance existing ventures and boost new initiatives to protect and improve the condition of the three major rivers that discharge in to the Peel-Harvey estuarine system – the Murray, Serpentine and Harvey Rivers – and the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar System.

“Alcoa is delighted to be working with three highly respected environmental organisations to support the  Serpentine, Murray and Harvey Rivers which are not only environmentally significant, but make important contributions to the social and economic health of the region,” said Michael Parker, Managing Director, Alcoa of Australia.  “These new partnerships are very clearly focused on improved environmental outcomes for the Peel-Harvey Catchment and reflect Alcoa’s commitment to returning value to the communities where we operate.”

The Nature Conservancy – revitalising the Peel-Harvey Estuary through nature-based solutions

Addressing the growing threats of urban development, fisheries decline and climate change on the long-term health and resilience of the Peel-Harvey Estuary, this project will complement existing work undertaken in the upper catchment. It will focus on marine habitat restoration opportunities for improving fisheries, biodiversity and natural solutions to coastal defence in the estuary.  The project will use The Nature Conservancy’s proven approach for catalysing large-scale investments in estuary protection and repair as being carried out in Oyster Harbour near Albany, and in South Australia and Victoria.

The project will also gather existing environmental, social and economic data to inform the development of online restoration decision-support tools called Coastal Resilience and Conservation Action Planning (CAP) processes to assist with restoration priority setting.

“We will hold a series of public presentations and workshops with leading TNC international experts and local stakeholders to improve knowledge of the benefits and approaches to restoring marine habitats,” said Dr Chris Gillies, Marine Manager, The Nature Conservancy Australia.  “This will include the latest local and global natural restoration methods for improving fisheries, reducing nutrient runoff and protecting shorelines against sea level rise and flooding.”

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council – Connecting Corridors and Communities – Restoring the Serpentine River

The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) will deliver on-ground environmental actions and community engagement over three years to improve the health of the Serpentine (Bilya) River. The funding will complement other projects including the State Government funded Regional Estuaries Initiative and Transform Peel, by enabling further works on private land, including:

  • Community engagement events and field days
  • Fencing to protect and conserve existing areas of riparian and bushland vegetation
  • Revegetation to reconnect areas of bushland, riparian zones and patches of remnant vegetation
  • Bank stabilisation to improve water quality, habitat and food availability for invertebrates and finfish
  • Biosecurity management of feral animals, weeds and diseases
  • Working with our local Noongar community through all aspects of the project
  • Developing an River Action Plan for the mid and upper reaches of the Serpentine River

“We are excited about this funding announcement. This significant grant enables three organisations to continue work on projects across the Peel-Harvey Catchment and PHCC is proud to be a part of the collaboration. It’s a great acknowledgement of the Peel-Harvey region and its environmental significance, ” said PHCC Chairman, Andy Gulliver. “The PHCC’s Restoring the Serpentine River project will benefit from the funding boost to continue and expand work with the community, the local Noongar people and local landholders to preserve and protect the Peel-Harvey estuary and surrounding landscapes for future generations.”

Greening Australia – The Three Rivers Initiative

Greening Australia will implement local, on-ground action across the Peel region working on identified priority projects with industry, community and local land management groups to improve the condition of the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers, reverse the loss of habitat for threatened species and integrate priority restoration into Peel-Harvey’s fragmented landscape.

Look out in your local community for upcoming activities and citizen science projects from these organisations to participate in recovery actions for the three rivers and the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar System.

“Greening Australia is 35 years old this year and we have also been in a continuous partnership with Alcoa for the entire 35 years. The Three Rivers initiative presents a renewed partnership opportunity to extend our collaboration and to improve the condition of the three major rivers in the Peel-Harvey, the Murray, Serpentine and Harvey,” said Greening Australia CEO Brendan Foran.

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past, present and emerging.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in 72 countries on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We’re tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, visit our website or follow us on Facebook.