Perth skyline at dawn © Tony Jupp


Swan River project announcement

Media Contacts

  • Tony Jupp
    Associate Director of Communications

The health of Perth’s Swan-Canning Estuary will be boosted by a new restoration campaign backed by multi-million-dollar gifts from Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation and Lotterywest.

Minderoo has pledged up to $2 million to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to undertake a series of activities to improve the Estuary’s health, including the restoration of lost shellfish reefs. Native shellfish reefs – including oysters and mussels – are Australia’s most threatened marine ecosystem.

“The Swan and Canning rivers need to be kept clean and healthy,” said Nicola Forrest, Director of Minderoo Foundation. “They flow through the heart of our city and reach our precious coastline. These rivers are celebrated for their natural beauty and cultural and recreational significance and should remain accessible for all West Aussies, and our visitors, for decades to come.”

The Minderoo pledge will match other donations on a 1:1 basis up to $2 million, with $650,000 of matching gifts already raised. With $1.25 million previously committed by Lotterywest and $250,000 from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, the project is more than halfway to its ambitious $5 million target. 

Mr and Mrs Forrest made the pledge anonymously last year. They recently agreed to go public, at TNC’s request, to help raise awareness of the project and the importance of river health.

“We’re extremely excited to extend our work restoring aquatic habitats to the Swan-Canning Estuary,” said Rich Gilmore, Director of TNC Australia. “Perth and Fremantle communities, from the time of European settlement, have greatly enjoyed what the Swan River offered in terms of its resources and beauty but the river is under increasing stress, mostly due to nutrient inflow. We greatly appreciate Minderoo’s and other donors’ generous pledges and I invite other West Australians to give something back to improve their river’s health.”

our Swan River project to a local community member
TNC staff explain our Swan River project to a local community member © Flare Productions

Shellfish reefs were once found in our bays and estuaries from Perth all the way around the southern and eastern coastline to Noosa, Queensland. Due to over-exploitation they are now found only in a few bays in Tasmania and NSW. Restoring shellfish reefs brings back a wealth of benefits for people and nature. This includes improved local fish stocks, better water clarity due to the filtration power of shellfish, increased shoreline protection, extra feeding habitat for threatened migratory shorebirds, and an overall increase in biodiversity. The Swan-Canning project is part of a bigger TNC program to restore shellfish reefs across southern Australia.

Some of Western Australia’s most respected companies and philanthropists are also backing the project including Jock Clough, Adrian & Michela Fini, Austral Fisheries, Gavin Bunning, The McCusker Foundation, Major Holdings Pty Ltd, James & Marion Taylor, and Michael & Margrete Chaney.

Others wishing to donate to the project are encouraged to contact TNC on (03) 8346 8600.

For more information on TNC’s shellfish reef restoration projects, visit our website here

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 more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.